Hammond, La. - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi volleyball team broke into the Southland Conference win column on Friday night with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 26-24) win over Southeastern Louisiana.
The win moves the Islanders to 8-20 on the year and gives them their first Southland Conference victory to move to 1-12. The Lady Lions fall to 8-16 overall and 4-9 in Southland matches.
The win is the first conference win for first-year head coach Tony Graystone. It is also the first Southland Conference road win by the Islanders since a 3-1 win against Sam Houston State on Sept. 27, 2007 in Huntsville.
"We feel pretty good tonight, they came up big and won close games," said Graystone. "They held their composure and won points when they needed too, especially in that last set."
TAMUCC fought the entire match and refused to lose while playing each set to the closest possible margin to get the win. The opening set saw the Islanders quickly fall behind 5-1 before scoring four consecutive points to knot the score at 5-5 and take the lead at 7-6. It would be one of nine tie scores and five lead changes in the match. The two teams were back-and-forth until the 19-19 mark when A&M-CC tied the score then took the lead for good to take a 25-23 win and a 1-0 match lead.
The second set saw the same final score, 10 ties and four lead changes but a much different tempo. The two teams battled to a 7-7 stalemate before the Islanders briefly took control of the set with a 10 to 3 run to stretch the lead to 17-10. The Lady Lions responded with a run of their own to knot the match at 18-18. The teams traded points all the way to a 23-23 deadlock before TAMUCC scored the final two points, capped off by an Ariel Carlson kill to make it 25-23 and put the team on the brink of its first conference win.
It was an even closer affair in the third set, with the match being extended by a single point to allow the Islanders to take a 26-24 win. Neither team led by more than five points at any time during the set with the lead changing hands four times. After losing the lead at 14-13, TAMUCC would not regain the upper hand until getting to match point at 25-24 with a kill by Courtney Wypiszynski. An attack error on the SELA would end the set as the Islanders took a tough 26-24 win to sweep the match with a 3-0 final.
"The key tonight was our 12 hitting errors to the 30 for Southeastern," said Graystone. "We followed our game plan and kept moving around.
"We played a lot smarter tonight and held it together to win several extended rallies."
Emma Ridley once again led the Islanders in scoring with 13 kills to go along with 13 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. The kills also put her at 410 on the year, making her the only Islander in history to surpass the 400 kill mark. Jessica Korda followed Ridley closely with 12 kills while Shannon Hullum added five. Carlson and Wypiszynski each had two and Jessica Jennett had one.
Victoria Sookiasian led the team with 18 digs while Jennett added 13 for the match. Carlson led the team at five block assists with Ridley adding three.
The team now faces a quick turnaround as they travel the short distance to Thibodaux, La. to take on Nicholls in a 2 PM Southland Conference match. They will be looking to get back-to-back wins in the final two road games of the season before returning home next weekend.
"Tonight was tough because of the long rallies and we looked tired at end," said Graystone. "We have a shorter ride tomorrow so I think the adrenaline will kick in and we shouldn't have a problem to get ready to play.