Volleyball hosts defending champion Texas State to start Southland play

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi volleyball team will get a chance to see how it stacks up against Southland Conference competition right away, as they start off league play against defending tournament champion Texas State. The two teams play at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night at the Dugan Wellness Center.

The Islanders come into the match with a 6-7 record on the year while the Bobcats are 7-7 entering league play.

Senior Emma Ridley is second in the league with 3.24 kills per set, and leads the team with 133 kills overall. Freshman Isabella Arcidiacono is close behind Ridley with 112 kills in her first collegiate season.

"We've had a pretty nice one-two punch throughout the year with those two," said head coach Tony Graystone. "To me, Emma has been really up-and-down this year, but the last few times out she started to look like her old self and be the player that we know she can be.

"I expect from here on out she's going to look better and better while the rest of the players continue to improve as well."

As a team, the Islanders lead the Southland Conference in opponents hitting percentage, allowing teams just a .163 percentage in 1,500 attempts this season.

The team has three players with 20-plus blocks, led by Brooke Alverson at 25 while Arcidiacono and Jordan Flemmer have 21 each. Junior transfer Amanda Lowe has made her presence felt in her first year with the program by adding 17 total blocks, including a team-high five block solos.

Preslie Alexander leads the Bobcats with 117 kills this season, just two ahead of AJ Watlington who is at 115 on the year. The Bobcats also have two players in a tight race for the assists lead, as Caleigh McCorquodale is tops with 254 while Shelbi Irvin is right behind with 252 this season. Texas State has six players with more than 20 blocks this season, including two tied for the team lead. Amber Calhoun and Ashlee Hilbun share the lead with 41 total blocks each.

It will be a tough test for the Islanders but Graystone sees it as an opportunity to measure themselves against the best in the league.

"Yeah, we know we are playing awfully talented teams this weekend," said Graystone. "There is no getting around it, they are one the schedule, but we are looking forward to see how we stack up against them.

"It's going to be a fun weekend."

Graystone is also hoping the home crowd will get involved and help give the Islanders a true home-court advantage.

"I've been really happy early on with the attendance we have been getting, especially with the student support," said Graystone. "They have been very enthusiastic and given us a great environment.

"We are really hoping for that again. Last season we weren't a very good home team and I'm really expecting us to be better at home this year."

Live stats and video will be available by visiting www.GoIslanders.com.