Sept. 4-5 | Edinburg, Texas | UTPA Fieldhouse
CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi volleyball team will trek to Edinburg, Texas, for the two-day UTPA Tournament starting on Thursday, Sept. 4. The Islanders will open the tournament against the Broncs at 6 p.m. before taking on Northern Arizona and Texas Tech on Friday, Sept. 5.
"This is a tough weekend," head coach Tony Graystone said. "Pan-American is someone who we are familiar with but always a tough match at their place. It will be their home opener, and they will have a big crowd and they will definitely be up for us. Northern Arizona and Texas Tech are two really good teams, who have a lot of size, good offense and good setting. They are fast so we will really have to play well to get those wins."
The Islanders are coming off a 2-1 record at the Baylor Invitational last weekend. The squad topped Portland in the season opener, 3-1, before falling to the Bears in a tough 3-1 battle. In the final match of the weekend, the Islanders swept Southland Conference foe Abilene Christian 3-0 while recording a team-high .266 hitting percentage. A&M - Corpus Christi hit a conference-high 14.1 kills per set while holding its opponents to 13.6 kills per set.
Senior Brianna Brink powered the Islanders' offense with a team-high 46 kills for the weekend. The Corona, Calif. native finished in double-figure kills in all three matches, and recorded a season-high 21 kills in the season opener against Portland. For her outstanding play, she was named to the All-Tournament Team, and earned GoIslanders.com Athlete of the Week and honorable mention honors by the Southland Conference.
Defensively, junior Hailey King propelled the Islanders' defense with a conference-best 5.36 digs per set in all 11 sets. She notched a team-high 59 digs while holding her opponents to a .176 hitting percentage. The New Braunfels, Texas native, registered double-figure digs in all three matches and matched a career-high 22 digs against Baylor. She also earned honorable mention accolades by the Southland. The Islanders recorded a conference-high 21.27 digs per set as a team.
Junior Ivy Baresh hit .202 on the weekend with 2.80 kills per set and a total of 28 kills. She also collected a pair of double-doubles against Portland and Abilene Christian, after leading the team with 16 double-doubles last season. The Arlington, Texas native picked up a season-best 13 kills against Portland before posting 10 kills against ACU. Baresh also got it done on the defensive end with three double-digit-dig matches, including a season-high 13 digs against Baylor and ACU.
Chelby Stanford also racked up two double-doubles over the weekend in both matches she played in. The junior transfer tallied 31 assists and 13 digs in the season opener against Portland before dishing out a career-high 39 assists and 14 digs against the Wildcats. For the weekend, she passed out 70 assists while registering a conference-best 11.6 assists per set. Kristyn Nicholson made her college debut in the third set of the match against Portland, and recorded 20 assists and six digs in the match. The freshman setter notched her first double-double of the season with 34 assists and 14 digs in her first career start against Baylor. For the weekend, she averaged 9.0 assists per set.
The Islanders will open the tournament against the Broncs who enter Thursday's match with a 0-3 record. UTPA dropped all three of their matches to Louisiana at Monroe, Mississippi State and Sam Houston State in the Sam Houston Invitational. Haley Durham leads the team with 2.08 kills per set while Mary Kate Clark is averaging 6.25 assists per set. As a team, the Broncs are posting a .124 hitting percentage.
A&M - Corpus Christi will meet UTPA for the 31st time in program history. The Islanders and Broncs have each garnered 15 wins each in the all-time series. Last season, the Islanders swept the Broncs 3-0 at home and were led by Baresh's 16 kills and King's 21 digs.
On Friday, the Islanders will face Northern Arizona (3-0) and Texas Tech (3-0). The Lumberjacks swept all three of their matches at the HBU Husky Classic against Houston Baptist, Chattanooga and Tulsa. Sydney Kemper leads the team with 3.45 kills per set while Jensen Barton has tallied 10.55 assists pet set. Defensively, Stacia Williams is averaging 5.56 digs per set and Payton Bock is controlling the net with 1.56 blocks per set. NAU is hitting .263 while holding their opponents to a .123 hitting percentage.
The Red Raiders are also undefeated heading into play on Friday. Tech rolled past Sacred Heart, Bucknell and Cal State Fullerton at the Titan Classic in Fullerton, Calif. with the help of Lauren Douglass who hit .318 kills per set and averaged 1.64 blocks per set. Rachel Brummitt also contributed with 5.36 digs per set and Marguerite Grubb dished out 11.55 digs per set. The squad is hitting .284 on the year and limiting their opponents to .148 hitting.
Northern Arizona holds the 2-0 series advantage over A&M - Corpus Christi after collecting 3-1 victories in 2006 and 2010. Texas Tech also holds the 2-0 series advantage over the Islanders after claiming 3-0 wins in 2000 and 2003.
Following Friday's match, the Islanders will head to Houston on Tuesday, Sept 9, to take on Rice at 6 p.m.
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