El Paso - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi volleyball team split a pair of matches on the final day of the UTEP Sun Bowl Invitational. The Islanders won the second match of the day 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 26-24), rebounding from an earlier loss to host UTEP by a 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-12) final. Three Islanders also made the All-Tournament team as Jessica Korda and Emma Ridley made the team and Kandyce Nielson was named the Most Valuable Libero of the tournament.
The finish gives the Islanders a 2-1 record and a second-place finish in the tournament.
"We obviously would have liked to win all 3 but it gave us a chance to see some things we need to get better at," said head coach Tony Graystone. "When we played well, we got the results we were looking for."
"It was a good road trip, from here on out we just have to get better and better."
After an early afternoon loss to UTEP, TAMUCC was able to bounce back and dominate their final match of the tournament against Texas Southern.
"It was good the way we bounced back from the early match," said Graystone. "We played more under control and looked like ourselves again out there."
The Islanders wasted little time, starting the match off by scoring the first four points in the opening set. They would extend their lead to as many as eight points at 20-12 on their way to a 25-17 set victory. Korda led the way with six kills and an outstanding .750 hitting percentage in the opening set. Ridley followed closely behind with four kills. Setter Courtney Wypisznyski ended the set on a service ace to give the Islanders a 1-0 match lead.
"Korda was really strong in the second match, we gave her a lot of chances and she did a good job," said Graystone. "The players did a nice job getting ready and really got up for the second match."
In the second set, TAMUCC poured it on, getting four kills each from Korda and Ridley and a pair of kills from Shannon Hullum to dominate the score at 25-11. Diandra Torres recorded her first kill of the season to make it 24-11 before Hullum finished the scoring off with her second kill the set to make it 25-11 and 2-0 heading into the third set.
In the third set, the Islanders battled the Tigers to the very end before winning a hard-fought set at 26-24. TAMUCC scored the first three points before the Tigers came back with three of their own to knot it at 3-3. The Islanders held a slim lead until the Tigers came back to tie it and then take the lead at 14-13. It was close until the end as the Tigers led for most of the set, jumping out to as much as a four-point lead at 23-19. TAMUCC would not go away however, climbing back into a 23-23 deadlock before scoring three-of-four points to take the set 26-24 and the match 3-0.
Korda led the team with 16 kills while Ridley had 13 and Hullum added six. C.J. Downey and Wypisznyski added two each while Ariel Carlson, Meagan Luber, Nielson and Torres each had one. Wypisznyski had 33 digs to lead the team while four players, Ridley, Korda, Nielson and Victoria Sookiasian all had five digs to tie for the team lead.
The early match saw the Islanders play tough early on but fade late as they lost a 3-0 decision to UTEP on their home court. The Islanders played to a 25-19 defeat in the first set before losing 25-15 and 25-12 in the final two sets.
"The first game was competitive and we played pretty well," said Graystone. "After that, things started to slip and we just could not recover."
In the early match, Korda once again led the Islanders in kills, notching nine to Ridley's eight. Sheridan Paulus had four, Luber had three, Wypisznyski and Whitney Wehring had two each and Carlson added one to round out the scoring for the Islanders. Wypisznyski led the team with 23 assists while Nielson was tops in digs with nine.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Islanders as they return home Saturday night and must get ready for their match on Tuesday evening.
"We have to gather ourselves Monday and address some things from weekend," said Graystone. "It will be a busy day as we get ourselves prepared and put in a game plan."
The Islanders play in Edinburg against Texas-Pan American at 6 PM on Tuesday night looking to go 3-1 on the young season.