October 5, 2010

Islanders face UTSA on Wednesday night in annual 'Dig Pink' match

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi volleyball team, fresh off the first-ever win against Stephen F. Austin and first Southland Conference win of the year, will take to the court on Wednesday night to play West Division leader UTSA.

The Islanders are 7-10 on the season and 1-3 in Southland matches. UTSA is 9-9 on the year, but have quickly jumped out to a 3-1 record in league play.

"Saturday was big, it was just so much fun to see us finally figure it out and take the next step," said head coach Tony Graystone. "Now we get to focus on two really hot teams this week in UTSA and Lamar so it doesn't get any easier.

"Wednesday is going be a fun match, there is going to be a big crowd for "Dig Pink" and that rivalry with having UTSA come in."

Emma Ridley has been on a tear of late, recording 20-plus kills in the last three matches, including 26 kills in back-to-back matches against Sam Houston State and SFA. She has totaled 217 on the season and currently leads the Southland with a 3.74 kills per set average, with a 4.94 k/s average in conference matches only. Logen Bourque leads the team with 520 assists this year, the second-highest total in school history for a freshman. Micah Nolan has 258 digs on the season with the next closest Islanders player being Ridley at 163 while Bourque (112) has also reached triple digits.

Isabella Arcidiacono is second on the team in kills with 139. She has been limited as of late, but has made a full recovery and Graystone expects to get her more touches in the two matches this week. With the way Ridley is playing and the addition of Arcidiacono back into the lineup, the Islanders coaching staff thinks they are close to finding the right combination for their league schedule.

"We gave the ball to Emma a ton over the weekend, but she was playing so well that it was the right thing to do," said Graystone. "Now we have to get Bella's timing back and more consistent. The same thing with Shannon Hullum, we need to get her more consistent and be able to balance our offense out.

"Our middles have been much better offensively. Brooke Alverson for sure has been hitting at a higher percentage, so we have been getting a little bit more out of our middles, but we need to give Emma a little bit more support."

The Roadrunners are led by junior Kelsey Jewasko, who was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the third-straight time this past Monday. She leads the team with 387 digs for a 5.30 digs per set average. Offensively, Kendra Rowland is tops on the team with 196 kills on the year. In addition to Rowland, UTSA also has Whitney Walls (169), Elise Huskey (144), Briana Mason (129) and Brittney Malloy (106) with over 100 kills on the season.

The Islanders are looking to gain ground on the leaders of the West Division with the ultimate goal of making the postseason for just the second time in school history.

"Probably the biggest goal we have this season is to make it to the conference tournament," said Graystone. "A big part of doing that is taking care of your home matches.

"That makes this week really important, we don't want to lose distance with anybody else in our division. So when we get a chance to compete with them at home, we have to be able to pick up a win."

The match starts at 7:00 p.m. but the festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. outside in front of the Dugan Wellness Center. Dr. Liette Ocker's Promotion of Sport class is helping host a pregame rally with activities such as a barbecue hosted by Blue Crew, a dunk tank, face painting and more. Come out and join other Islanders fans in supporting the volleyball team.

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