The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders nearly pulled off a sweep of their matches in the first day of the Air Force Invitational as they beat North Carolina Central and fell in five sets to Florida Atlantic on a day that saw Molly McCabe record a season-high 44 assists.
The Islanders (2-6) started off the day with an early morning match against North Carolina Central. Amber Benjamin started off the scoring with a kill to make the first set 1-0 and the Islanders never looked back. The score was tied at 3-3 before a kill by Lauren Paslay put the Islanders ahead for good at 4-3.
The score in the first set would get as close as 8-7 TAMUCC before a kill by Kasey McBrearty ended the Eagle threat and allowing the Islanders to breeze through the rest of the set.
The margin reached 21-13 before four straight points by the Islanders, including two kills by McBrearty on assists by McCabe, ended the set at 25-13 to put the match at 1-0. McCabe had a set high 12 assists while McBrearty and Paslay each recorded four kills.
The second set was more of the same, as TAMUCC dominated the set behind four McBrearty kills and six McCabe assists to win the set 25-11.
After the Islanders went up 1-0 in the set, it was never tied and the margin got as wide as 23-9 before finishing off the set at 25-11. TAMUCC took advantage of eight Eagle attack errors in building their lead before block assists by Diandra Torres and Paslay on the final point put them up 2-0 in the best-of-five match.
The third set was over quickly as the Islanders were able to dominate from the opening serve, getting an error to go up 1-0 and never looking back as they coasted to a 25-9 victory in the final set.
McBrearty, who led the team in kills for the third straight set, Paslay and Beth Fionda each recorded three kills while McCabe tallied nine assists.
TAMUCC scored five straight points twice in the set, including the final five to close out the match. The score sat at 20-9 before a flurry of points highlighted by three service aces by Whitney Wehring and two kills by Fionda, ended the match by a score of 25-9 in the final set.
The Islanders hitting percent was above .240 each set, including a high of .281 in the first set, to finish with a season-high of .263
McBrearty finished with 11 kills to lead the team while McCabe had 27 assists while Kandyce Nielson recorded 11 digs.
In the second match of the day, the Islanders put up a valiant effort before falling in five sets to Florida Atlantic.
TAMUCC started out slow in the first set, falling behind 19-15 before fighting back to tie the score at 21-21. At 19-15, Paslay recorded a kill, Nielson served an ace and McBrearty recorded another kill to pull to within 19-18.
The two teams traded points on a FAU kill and three straight attack errors to put the score at 21-20. Two straight kills by Fionda allowed the Islanders to grab their first lead of the set at 22-21.
The teams went back and forth once again to 23-23 before kills by Jessica Korda and Fionda ended the set and put the Islanders on top 25-23.
The second set was another close one, with neither team leading by more than five points at any time during the set. TAMUCC pulled ahead early at 6-5 on a Fionda kill and never trailed after that point in the set.
The score was tied at 9-9 at one point but the Islanders quickly pulled ahead once again after a Paslay kill and four straight attack errors by the Owls put the score at 13-9.
14-10 was the closest the score would get again as TAMUCC scored 11 of the next 21 points with the two teams going back and forth with points. A service ace by McCabe made the score 24-19 then the two teams traded errors to finish the set at 25-20.
The Owls stormed back with two quick set victories to even the match at two games apiece. The third set saw the Islanders struggle early, falling behind 7-0 before falling by a final of 25-9. TAMUCC committed 10 errors in the match and were never able to recover from the early deficit.
The fourth set was a closer match but still saw the Owls take an early 3-0 lead and build it to as many as 11 points at 20-9. The Islanders were able to pull to within seven at 24-17 but could get no more as the Owls scored the final point of the set to win 25-17.
The fifth and final set was one for the books, as the two teams struggled back and forth. The Owls led early, 7-2 before the Islanders slowly worked away at the lead, bringing it all the way back to 12-12 before taking a 13-12 lead on a Korda kill.
The Owls answered to make it 13-13 before Fionda once again put the Islanders ahead and on the brink of winning the match at 14-13.
It was not to be however, as three straight points for the Owls won the set and the match for Florida Atlantic.
Fionda finished with a team high 14 kills while Paslay contributed 10. McCabe had a season-high 44 assists to lead the Islanders. Nielson recorded 18 digs for the match.
The Islanders are back in action tomorrow in two matches, an early 10 a.m. match against Kent State and a 3 p.m. match against host Air Force.