ISLANDERS OPEN SEASON WITH VICTORY IN SUN BOWL INVITE
El Paso - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi volleyball team got the 2009 season started off on the right foot, taking down Norfolk State by a 3-1 score (22-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-13) at the UTEP Sun Bowl Invitational to go to 1-0 on the new year and 1-0 under new head coach Tony Graystone.
The season-opening victory marks the first such win for the Islanders since the 2006 season and is just the fourth ever in the program's 10 year history. For Graystone, it makes 11-straight wins to start the season as a head coach, having never lost an opening match in his career.
Transfer Emma Ridley led the Islanders with 16 kills on the night while sophomore Jessica Korda finished second with 11 kills.
"It was no surprise to us how Emma performed out there tonight after seeing her in the preseason," said Graystone. "She was really anxious at first but once she got settled in, she pretty much took over the match."
The Islanders fell behind 1-0 early on after dropping the first set by a 25-22 score. After holding a slight lead for the early part of the set until the Spartans tied it at 16-16 then scored the next two points to take an 18-16 lead. After tying once again at 19-19, the Spartans made it 23-19 after four-straight points. The Islanders were unable to close the gap, losing the set by a 25-22 final.
After the first set, TAMUCC settled down and took care of business, reeling off three consecutive set victories, 25-19, 25-16 and 25-13. During the second set, the Spartans were ahead 16-15 before the Islanders outscored them 10-3 to take the 25-19 final and knot the match at one set apiece.
Set three saw the score tied as late as 12-12 before TAMUCC took control behind five kills by Korda and four by Ridley to more than triple their score the rest of the set at 13-4 on their way to a 25-16 win.
The final set saw Korda and Ridley total three kills each while Ariel Carlson and Meagan Luber each had a pair to lead the Islanders to a 25-13 win and a 3-1 match victory.
In addition to Ridley's 16 kills and Korda's 11, other leaders on the night were Kandyce Nielson with 25 digs and freshman Courtney Wypisznyski with 37 assists. Carlson had seven kills, Luber had three, C.J. Downey had five, Wypisznyski had two and Jessica Jennett added one. Carlson also led the team with a .875 hitting percentage, notching seven kills and no errors.
Korda had a .320 hitting percentage for the match, Ridley had a .250 percentage.
"Korda started slow as well but got herself under control and played the last three game lights out," said Graystone "When Korda and Ridley are going for us we are going to do pretty decent."
The Islanders continue play tomorrow afternoon with a 1 PM match against tournament host UTEP. The Miners played the late match against Texas Southern following the TAMUCC victory. They finish off the tournament against Texas Southern with a 6 PM game on Saturday night.
"We are going to scout UTEP tonight to see how they are," said Graystone. "Then we will put a game plan together and see what we can do against them tomorrow."