CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi volleyball teamed clinched its first Southland Conference Tournament victory in school history Friday with a 3-1 victory (25-23, 25-27, 25-23, 25-21) over Sam Houston State in the Dugan Wellness Center. The team made its second consecutive appearance in the tournament and third overall and powered its way to the semifinals. The Islanders will face No. 1 Central Arkansas tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.
The Islanders clinched its 20th win of the season to improve to 20-11 and were powered by four players in double figures. Brianna Brink led the offense with 16 kills while Ashley Phelps chipped in 14 kills. Sarah Sanchez matched her career high with 13 kills on an impressive .462 hitting and Ivy Baresh registered her 16th double-double of the season with 10 kills and 12 digs. Senior Logen Bourque passed out 54 assists and tallied nine digs. Defensively, the Islanders were solid with a match-high 82 digs. Shayla Maldonado propelled the team with a match-high 23 digs and Hailey King added 20.
Devene Wells-Gibson led the Bearkats (17-11, 14-4 SLC) with a match-high 27 kills on .217 hitting. The match featured 36 ties and 13 lead changes.
In the first set, the Islanders and Bearkats were even early on before a 3-0 run by the Islanders pushed the team ahead 14-13 and forced Sam Houston State to call its first timeout. Both teams traded points back and forth until five straight points by the Bearkats gave them a 23-19 advantage. However, the Islanders rallied back to score six consecutive points to clinch the set 25-23. During the run, Brink hit three straight kills and Shaquinn Parker chipped in one. The Islanders hit .256 in the set and held the Bearkats to just .200 hitting.
Sam Houston State bounced back to win the second set 27-25 which mirrored the first set, with 13 ties and three lead changes. The Islanders and Bearkats battled early on before a 3-0 run by Sam Houston State pushed the team ahead 11-8. The Islanders responded with three straight points of their own to knot the set at 11-11. The Bearkats stayed in front until a trio of points by Sanchez evened the set back up at 15-15. The Islanders garnered the lead at 18-15 after three straight points and held its lead to 22-18. The Bearkats followed with a 4-0 run to tie the set at 22-22 before edging the Islanders 27-25 on a 5-3 run.
The Islanders controlled the third set with an early 7-4 lead. After a 3-0 run by Sam Houston State, the Islanders tacked on five straight points to pad its lead to 12-7. The Islanders held the lead until a 6-1 run by the Bearkats tied the set at 19-19. Both teams traded points back and forth before tying again at 22-22. Brink followed with consecutive kills and the Islanders went on to win 25-23.
In the fourth set, the Islanders were explosive, hitting .268 and limiting the Bearkats to just .179 hitting. After battling back and forth early on, the Islanders jumped ahead 13-10 after straight kills by Baresh and Sanchez. The Islanders stayed in front until a 3-0 run by the Bearkats gave them a 17-16 lead. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi rallied back with three straight points to take the lead for good at 19-17. During the run, Brink and Baresh both added kills. Following a Bearkat timeout, Baresh and Brink once again hit consecutive kills to pad the Islanders' lead to 21-18. After Sam Houston State cut the Islanders' lead to one, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi capped the set with three straight points to win its first ever Southland Conference tournament match, 25-21.
The Islanders will face No. 1 Central Arkansas in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Live stats and free video can be found on the Southland Conference Tournament Central page HERE.
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