CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi volleyball team lost a tough, five-set thriller against North Texas in the final match of the Holiday Inn Emerald Beach Islanders Classic as UNT claimed the tournament crown.
The team moves to 5-5 on the season while North Texas goes to 7-4 after three wins in the tourney. Islanders Brooke Alverson and Micah Nolan were named to the all-tournament team following their performances during the weekend.
Brianna Brink led the team in kills with a career-high 16 while Alverson and Ashley Phelps also reached double digits. Alverson tallied 11 while Phelps got a career-high 10 on the night. Logen Bourque tied her high for the weekend with 45 assists while Brink also had a career-high 15 digs on the night for the third double-double of her career.
In the first set, the Islanders trailed 3-0 early before back-to-back kills from Phelps and Brink tied the score at 5-5. The kills were part of a 4-0 run that gave the Islanders their first lead of the set at 7-5. UNT came back to take an 8-7 lead before six-straight points on three service aces from Alverson as well as kills from Alverson, Brink and Tina Chavis gave Texas A&M – Corpus Christi a 13-8 advantage. A block assist from Alverson and Phelps made it 18-12 and forced a second Mean Green timeout. The Islanders kept at it however, as a pair of Nolan service aces and kills from Alverson, Phelps and a pair from Shannon Hullum out of the timeout capped off a 9-0 run to clinch the set.
With her team trailing 2-0 to start the second set, Phelps hammered home a kill to get the Islanders on the board at 2-1, but Texas A&M – Corpus Christi trailed early and was never able to mount a comeback, falling 25-15 in the second to tie it at one set apiece.
The Islanders trailed early and were able to pull within three points several times, but the Mean Green extended the lead to six at 14-8, forcing Graystone to call a timeout and try to settle down his team. Following the break, the Islanders mounted a rally to within 17-14 on kills from Phelps, Alverson and Bourque to force a UNT timeout. After a back-and-forth sequence, Brink closed the deficit to within 22-20 as the Mean Green used another timeout. North Texas scored out of the break to move to 23-20, but Alverson notched a pair of kills to tie the set at 23-23, but UNT scored the final two points of the set to take a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Phelps and Chavis opened the fourth set with a block assist to score the first point while kills from Hullum and Phelps along with a Hullum service ace made it a 4-3 score. Brink extended the lead to 8-5 with a kill as the teams battled back-and-forth, with the Islanders unable to stretch the lead to more than three until a Phelps kill make it 19-15 to force a UNT timeout. Following the break, the Mean Green reeled off a pair of points to cut it to 19-17 as Graystone elected to take a timeout of his own. Phelps responded with a thunderous kill, but North Texas closed to within 20-19. UNT called another timeout after kills from Phelps and Bourque extended the lead back to four at 23-19. After a point by the Mean Green made it 23-20, two-straight kills by Alverson clinched the stanza for the Islanders and forced a fifth set.
In the final frame, Chavis started things off with a kill, but North Texas scored the next three to take a 3-1 advantage. Trailing 5-2, Brink closed it to within 5-3, but UNT took an 8-3 lead into the changeover. They extended the lead to 13-5 on the way to a 15-8 victory and the tourney win.
The Islanders won earlier in the day against UTPA to finish 2-1 in the tournament. They will be back in action next against UTPA for the third time this year when the two teams play on Tuesday, Sept. 13 in Edinburg for a 6 p.m. tilt.
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