The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi volleyball team mounted a huge comeback in set four and nearly pulled out a five-set victory in a hard fought match with UTSA Friday night as Kasey McBrearty led the Islanders with a career-high 22 kills in front of school-record 605 fans.
The Islanders lost the match 3-2 (25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-27, 15-10) to fall to 3-10 on the year with a 1-2 record in Southland Conference play. UTSA is now 10-6 with a 3-0 SLC record.
"I am extremely proud of our team." said Islander Head Coach Kimberly Martinez. "They fought extremely hard and focused on each point one at a time."
The Islanders started out slow as a team, dropping the first set by a score of 25-16. Things turned things around the rest of night as McBrearty caught fire, collecting at least four kills in each of the first four games.
"Kasey is starting to come around and is playing better every match." said Martinez "This is her senior year and she is showing how much she wants it every time out."
After a quick first match, the Islanders would not go quietly and fought for every point they received, outscoring the Roadrunners 27-25 in set two to even the match at one game each.
In the set, McBrearty started the scoring with a kill and would set the tone for the Islanders. The Islanders fell behind slightly at 9-7, but a service error on the Roadrunners, back-to-back service aces by Lauren Paslay and a kill by McBrearty turned the deficit into a 11-9 Islander lead.
The lead would be brief as UTSA once again took the lead and stretched it to 19-13 before the Islanders would rally back.
A flurry of points on two kills apiece by Jessica Korda and Beth Fionda and one by Paslay would bring the Islanders back to within 19-18. After a Roadrunner point, kills by Fionda and Korda evened the match at 20-20 and sparked the Islanders run.
Paslay made a kill to put the Islanders ahead 21-20 and UTSA answered right back at 21-21. Kills by Paslay and McBrearty put the Islanders ahead by two at 23-21.
After an Islander service error, a McBrearty kill and a UTSA kill by Kelsey Jewasko, the match stood at 24-23 in favor of the Islanders. As would be the case several times throughout the night, McBrearty took control and knocked home the final kill of the set for a 25-23 Islander win.
In the third set, the Islanders kept close for most of the period but could never overcome the Roadrunner attack. They were behind but kept within a point or two until taking advantage of a bad set by UTSA to take a slim 15-14 lead.
It would not hold however as the Roadrunners would take back the lead and work their way to a 25-22 win to go up 2-1 in the match. McBrearty recorded five kills in the set to lead the Islanders.
In the fourth set, the Islanders would start out struggling but would not give up as they made up one of the biggest deficits in school history, fighting off multiple match points and outscoring UTSA 17 to 4 at the end of the set.
After falling behind by a near insurmountable deficit of 21-10, the Islanders fought back and wore down the Roadrunners to square the match at two sets each.
Korda started the comeback with a kill to make it 21-11. UTSA then answered back to put the score at 22-11 and on the verge of finishing off the match.Paslay notched another kill, UTSA committed a bad set and Chelsea Myers recorded a kill to put the score at 22-14.
Another Roadrunner point made it 23-14 and put the match within two points of being finished.
After a McBrearty kill started things off, the Islanders scored eight straight points and brought the match to within 23-22. An attack error by UTSA was followed by a service ace by Molly McCabe.
A sequence then occured where McBrearty recorded a kill, the Roadrunners committed an attack error, McBrearty made another kill, UTSA made another attack error and finally McBrearty recorded another kill to put the score at 23-22 in favor of UTSA and forcing the Roadrunners to call a timeout.
Following the timeout, the Roadrunners scored to make it match point at 24-22, but the Islanders would not go quietly. The Islanders fought off two match points on kills by McBrearty and Korda. An attack error on UTSA then put the score at 25-24 in favor of the Islanders.
After the Roadrunners scored to knot it at 25-25, the Islanders used a Korda kill and an attack error on UTSA to win the set and even the match at 2-2. McBrearty once again led the Islanders with six kills in the set.
In the fifth set, the Islanders had expended too much energy and could not mount a successful attack to put the match away, as they trailed early and never led before falling by a 15-10 margin.
After falling behind 1-0, McBrearty recorded her final kill of the match to make it 1-1. UTSA took the lead back and extended it to 9-5. The Islanders used back-to-back attack errors from the Roadrunners to close the gap to 9-7 but would not get any closer.
UTSA outscored the Islanders 6-3 over the final nine points to take the final set and win the match by a 3-2 margin.
The Islanders played hard throughout and showed determination in mounting their comeback but came up just short on a night that saw many highlights.
The 605 in attendance was the largest crowd to ever see an Islanders volleyball game and was held in conjunction with the Dig Pink campaign to raise awareness for breast cancer. The previous high was the very first home match in team history during the 2000 season as the Islanders took on North Texas in front of 521 people.
Also notable on the night were McBrearty's career-high 22 kills as well as a career-high in block assists with four. Victoria Sookiasian had a career-high 11 digs and the team matched their season-high in blocks with eight on the night. Holly Watson led the way with a block solo and five block assists. The five block assists were a career-best.
UTSA had three players with double-digit kills, led by Kendra Rowland with 17, Stefanie Robbins with 15 and Elise Huskey with 12. Amber Brooks recorded 50 assists for the Roadrunners.
"I have to remind myself everyday that although we are excited about their progress, this is still a young team." said coach Martinez. "We played a phenomenal team tonight but we still have to get better before facing them again."
The Islanders are next in action next Friday and Saturday,
October 10 and 11 as they go on the road to face Sam Houston State
and Lamar in SLC action.