Texas A&M - Corpus Christi volleyball head coach Tony Graystone believes that his team has improved significantly since the early part of the season, when the Islanders played the Sam Houston State Bearkats on Sept. 10 at the Holiday Inn Emerald Beach Islanders Classic. The two teams meet again on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. in Huntsville.
The Islanders now sit at 6-9 on the season and are 0-2 in Southland Conference matches. The Bearkats are 6-11 this year with the same 0-2 record. Both teams will be looking for their first league win while A&M - Corpus Christi will be looking to even the season series with Sam Houston.
"We have to play better against Sam Houston than we did the first time," said Graystone. "We had a pretty good game plan, but we just didn't execute it well the first time.
"We are a much better team than we were the first time we played them, so we are optimistic about that. We have to decide what lineup we are going to run, take that on the road and play well in somebody else's gym."
The Islanders are led offensively by Emma Ridley and her 165 kills this season. Ridley is also second on the team in digs with 132, one of only two people, along with Micah Nolan's 215 digs, that have reached triple digits in the category. Logen Bourque leads the team with 434 assists on the year.
Isabella Arcidiacono is second on the team in kills with 120 after sitting out last Saturday's match against UT Arlington. Graystone is confident that Arcidiacono will be full speed on Thursday when they see live match action for the first time since Saturday.
"A lot of what we do against Sam and SFA is going to depend on Bella's health," said Graystone. "We expect her to be pretty close to 100%.
"If she is, we have a couple of options."
The Bearkats Carli Kolbe leads her team in kills with 183 on the season. She is one of three players on the Sam Houston State team in triple-digit kills. Kaylee Hawkins in second on the team with 116 kills, and Kelli Stewart rounds out the trio with 111 kills this season. Kolbe is also second on the team with 135 digs while Hawkins leads the team with 188 this year. Kym Loving is the primary setter for the Bearkats and has amassed 525 kills this season.
A&M - Corpus Christi will also be playing their first road match of the conference season on Thursday night when they travel to Huntsville. After settling into the playing atmosphere of the Dugan Wellness Center, the team will have to adjust to a hostile crowd for the first time in several weeks.
"We haven't been on a road trip in three weeks," said Graystone. "It's been nice to be here in Corpus for a while and get used to being at home.
"Now we have to change gears and go on the road, but it's an easy trip as far as distance goes."
After the Islanders play Sam Houston State on Thursday night, they will continue on the road where they will travel to Nacogdoches to play Stephen F. Austin at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Live stats will be available for the match against the Bearkats by visiting www.GoIslanders.com.