September 5, 2008

VOLLEYBALL OPENS ISLANDER HOLIDAY INN-EMERALD BEACH INVITATIONAL WITH THREE-SET SWEEP

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islander volleyball team got on the winning track Friday night with it's first home match of the season in a 3-0 (25-10, 25-22, 28-26) victory over Texas Southern on the first night of the Islander Holiday Inn Emerald Beach Invitational as seniors Lauren Paslay and Kasey McBrearty combined for 28 kills.

The win was the Islanders first of the season to improve to 1-3, while the Tigers fell to 0-4 on the year.

"The crowd was great tonight," said Islander head coach Kimberly Martinez, whose team played in front of 560. "They helped us keep the intensity when we had a few lulls. There were a couple of times where we found ourselves digging a hole and the crowd helped us dig out."

The Islanders burst out of the gate in the first set, powering their way to a 25-10 win to take an early 1-0 advantage. A&M-Corpus Christi out-hit the Tigers .556 to .130. The Islanders were led by three service aces by Kandyce Nielson and four kills by Beth Fionda.

Nielson making her first collegiate start as a setter had a match-high 34 assists.

"Kandyce did well for setting for the first time in two years," said Martinez. "She was able to make some key adjustments at important times throughout the match."

The Tigers proved resilient in the second set, fighting hard before the Islanders were able to put them away by a score of 25-22 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

The Islanders and Tigers went back and forth during the third set, providing a thrilling finish to a hard earned victory for the home team.

The Tigers jumped out to an early lead and the teams went point-for-point for some time before the Islanders were able to knot the score at 22-22 late in the decisive game. The standard 25 points would not be enough to finish the match, as the home crowd was treated to extra points at the end of the game.

The Tigers scored to go up 23-22 but Paslay roared back with a kill to even the score once again at 23-23. The Tigers had set point in the third set three times but Paslay saved the first with an equalizing kill to knot the set at 24-24. The trend continued with the Tigers scoring point 25 followed by a McBrearty kill to extend the game and point 26 once again followed by a McBrearty kill to square the set.

The Islanders struck next to take a 27-26 lead on an attack error by the Tiger. The Tigers' Emma Obi was blocked by Paslay and Diandra Torres to clinch the match for the Islanders.

Paslay and McBrearty led the Islanders offensively on the night, with Paslay recording 18 kills to lead the team while McBrearty had several key points in the third and final set to finish with 10 kills on the match. Freshman libero Whitney Wehring led the team with 12 digs while McBrearty finished second on the night with seven and Nielson recorded six. Paslay and Torres each recorded two block assists to lead the Islanders.

"Kasey is really starting to come around for us," said Martinez. "She had a much better match offensively, but also was second on the team in digs, which was huge.

"Lauren also had a strong match despite facing a big block. Their height concerned me but she did a great job of working her swing to score points."

The Islanders take on Arkansas-Little Rock in a 12:30 p.m. match Saturday afternoon while they take on Colorado in the nightcap at 7:00 p.m. in the final game of the tournament. The Buffaloes handed UALR a 3-1 loss in the first match of the tournament.