The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Volleyball team will kickoff the season on Friday evening, taking on host Baylor in the Fairfield Inn North Baylor Classic on the Bears campus in Waco. It will be the first of three matches on the weekend, with contests against Tulane and Nevada to follow on Saturday.
Coming off of an improved Southland Conference mark in 2011, the Islanders return nine letterwinners from a year ago, with the bulk being juniors who are in their third year with the program. The lone senior on the team is Shannon Hullum, and she is the most experienced of the returners, having lettered three years after transferring to the Island University.
Brooke Alverson is a Second Team Preseason All-Southland Conference pick at middle blocker, the lone preseason pick on the team. She led the team in hitting percentage (.240), total blocks (101), block assists (86) and block solos (15). Also on the offensive side, Logen Bourque returns for her junior campaign after setting the career record for assists (2.135) in just her sophomore year. Defensively, Micah Nolan did the same thing, setting the standard for the Islanders with an all-time high for a career in digs (1,109).
Freshman Tyger Holt leads the group of nine newcomers that includes seven players from high school and two transfers.
Among opponents this weekend, Baylor has the top record, finishing 18-15 overall and seventh in the Big 12. The Islanders had the second best mark among teams in the tournament with a 13-20 finish, while Tulane went 9-22 and Nevada finished 5-21.
Baylor returns 10 players from the 2011 squad, including Torii Campbell, the Bears second-best offensive threat. Campbell had 326 kills on a .289 hitting percentage a year ago, while No. 3 Zoe Adom (258 kills), No. 4 Adri Nora (234) and No. 6 Alyssa Dibbern (172) also return for another season.
Tulane has six starters returning, while bringing back 11 letterwinners overall. The Green Wave offense combined for 1,414 kills a year ago, and they return players who accounted for all but three (99.7%) of those kills. They also return all players responsible for their 233 blocks as a team during 2011.
Nevada has the fewest returners from last season amongst teams in the tournament, seeing just seven players back from the 2011 squad. The top two hitters from the previous year return, with Janelle Batista (227 kills) and Tessa Lea'ea (223 kills) leading the way for the Wolfpack. Nevada also features the smallest roster among teams in the Baylor Classic, with just 12 players listed on the roster.
Live stats are scheduled for all matches in the tournament, while audio and video of the Islanders will only be available for the match against Baylor on Friday.
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