ISLANDERS OPEN HOME SLATE WITH SWEEP OF UTPA
The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi volleyball team got a big night from junior Emma Ridley as they won their home opener against the Texas-Pan American Lady Broncs in a 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-19) sweep on Tuesday night. The Islanders improved to 7-10 on the season.
Ridley had 24 kills in the three set match, the highest three-set total of any player in the Southland Conference this season. The previous high was 20 kills, set by Chloe Smith of Central Arkansas. The 24 kills also sets a new single match record for the Islanders, eclipsing the old mark of 20 previously held by both Sarah Hill and Christie Feliz. In addition to the kills, Ridley also hit at a high rate, finishing the match with a .340 hitting percentage.
"It was a lot of fun becasue we had a good crowd tonight and had good energy on our home court after playing on everybody else's court the last five weeks," said head coach Tony Graystone. "It was a good reward after spending the last 16 matches on the road.
"It's nice to see that they were happy to have us here and we played well for them."
The Islanders started the match by fighting off two set points before eventually taking the set at 26-24. TAMUCC and UTPA kept close to each other the entire way, going point-for-point with 14 ties in the set as well as nine lead changes. After the Islanders evened the score at 22-22, UTPA scored two-straight points to get to match point at 24-22. Back-to-back kills by Ridley kept the Islanders from the loss and brought the set back to even once again. Shannon Hullum then put the Islanders up 1-0 in the match with one of her two kills in the set.
Ridley led all scorers with eight kills in the set while Courtney Wypisznyski led the team with 14 assists. Libero Kandyce Nielson led the Islanders with four digs while Ariel Carlson added two block solos to lead the team.
In the second set, TAMUCC started fast and never looked back, going up by as many as 12 points before taking a 25-13 final. After the Lady Broncs scored the first point, the Islanders scored two-straight to take an early 2-1 lead. After UTPA tied the score at 2-2, TAMUCC scored eight-straight points to take a commanding 10-2 lead. Ridley had four kills in the first 10 points for the team while Hullum added two. Wypisznyski also added three service aces to push the lead even further.
The lead would grow to 24-12 as the Islanders finished the set off with a block assist by Wypisznyski and Carlson to make the final 25-13, putting the match at 2-0 in favor of TAMUCC. Ridley once again paced the team with nine kills and also led the team with five digs while Wypisznyski 12 assists.
In the third set, the Lady Broncs kept it closer but the Islanders were able to maintain control to take a 25-19 win and a 3-0 match victory. UTPA rushed out to an 8-4 lead before TAMUCC came back to tie the match and then take the lead behind kills from Ridley. With the score 12-10 in favor of UTPA, Wypisznyski served an ace, then Ridley had back-to-back kills followed by another ace by Wypisznyski to put the score in favor of the Islanders at 14-12. They would never relinquish the lead again as they outscored the Lady Broncs by a margin of 11-7 to finish out the set.
Ridley had seven kills, Wypisznyski had 10 assists and Nielson had five digs to lead the team in their respective categories in the set.
Ridley led all scorers with 24 kills on the night while Hullum also added double-digits with 10 kills. Jessica Korda had seven, Meagan Luber had two while Carlson and Wypisznyski added one each to round out the list. Wypisznyski also added 36 assists and a career-high six service aces in the match.
The Islanders are back in action at Moody Fieldhouse on Saturday as they host conference rival UTSA in their Southland home opener. Match time is set for 4 PM.
"Hopefully we can keep this feeling and carry it through practice the rest of the week while making sure we get prepared for UTSA on Saturday," said Graystone. "We'll give them our best effort and just go from there.
"When you have a conference opponent, especially one you consider a rival due to how close they are, you just want to follow this up and play well again."