Islanders Unable to Overcome First-Place Sugar Bears in Conway
CONWAY, Ark. – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Volleyball team gained an early lead but were unable to hang on, falling 3-1 (17, 25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-18) against first-place Central Arkansas in a Southland Conference road match. The Islanders face Oral Roberts on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla. to conclude a stretch of five league matches on the road.
The Islanders (16-8, 8-4 Southland) started out hot, but the Sugar Bears (23-3, 11-2 Southland) rallied for three straight sets to take the match and split the season series at one match apiece.
Brianna Brink led the way with a match high 20 kills while hitting .500 in the contest. Ivy Baresh finished the night with 10, Brooke Alverson had eight and Shannon Hullum picked up seven. Logen Bourque had 41 assists, while Micah Nolan was the only Texas A&M – Corpus Christi player with double-digit digs at 11 on the night.
The opening set started out quickly for the Islanders, with Brink and Hullum getting two kills apiece and Courtney Hall notching one to give their team an early 6-0 lead as the Sugar Bears called a quick timeout. After the break in action, UCA got on the board with a kill, but an attack error followed it up as Texas A&M – Corpus Christi took a 7-1 lead.
After a rally by UCA to close the gap to four points at 13-9, the advantage grew to as many as eight points at 22-14 following an Alverson kill. Brink made it 23-16, Bourque brought up set point with a kill to make it 24-17 and Hullum finished it off with a kill for the 25-17 final and a 1-0 lead in the match.
The second set started the polar opposite of the first, with the Sugar Bears taking a 4-0 lead before a Brink kill got the Islanders on the scoreboard, and extending it to as many as 9-3 before the visiting team took its first timeout.
The score got to 14-7 before Texas A&M – Corpus Christi staged a rally, scoring five points in a row on a Brink kill and two Bourque service aces to cut the lead to just two at 14-12. The rallied continued all the way to the end, with a block assist by Hall and Brink making it 24-24, and another Bourque service ace making it a 25-24 lead. The Islanders could not finish it off however, with UCA scoring the final three points to take a 27-25 final to even the match at one set apiece.
In the third set, it was a closer affair early on, with the teams playing to a 10-10 tie midway through the action. The Sugar Bears reeled off four straight points to gain the advantage, and they would never trail the rest of the way.
Down by as many as nine late in the set at 22-13, a kill by Alverson started the rally, followed by a Brink kill and back-to-back block assists by Bourque and Hall to make it a 23-18 score. After UCA made it set point at 24-21, Brink picked up another kill and Bourque came up with an ace to make it 24-21. It was not meant to be however, as the Sugar Bears picked up the final point for a 25-21 win and a 2-1 lead.
The final set had UCA taking a five-point lead at 9-4, but the Islanders closed to within two on several occasions. With the score 16-14 following a Hullum and Alverson block assist, the Sugar Bears called timeout to stem the tide. After the break in action, UCA picked up three straight points to extend it back to a five-point advantage at 19-14. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi was unable to rally this time as UCA earned a 25-18 final and a 3-1 match win.
The Islanders will be back in action on Saturday at 3 p.m. against Oral Roberts. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi will look for a repeat of the earlier meeting as the team won 3-0, while the Golden Eagles will look to even the season series on their home court.
Live stats and video for the match will be available by visiting www.ORUGoldenEagles.com.
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