CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Volleyball team picked up a big win on Thursday night in Southland Conference play, winning 3-1 (25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 25-19) against Northwestern State. It was the annual 'Dig Pink' night at the Dugan Wellness Center and the teams played in front of a 1,209 fans, the largest of the season and just 40 short of the all-time high.
The Islanders (12-6, 5-2 Southland) avenged their first Southland Conference loss of the year by beating the Lady Demons (12-7, 4-3 Southland), who won 3-1 in Natchitoches, La., on Sept. 18.
Brianna Brink led all Islanders with 16 kills, doing so on a .353 attack percentage, while Shannon Hullum had 13 kills on a .242 hitting percentage and a match-high seven block assists. Brooke Alverson entered the match for the first time late in the second set, but made an immediate impact and finished with five kills, two digs, one block solo and three block assists. Logen Bourque finished with 36 assists and 13 digs while Micah Nolan had a team-high 26 digs in the match and Hailey King had 10.
Set one was close throughout and featured 10 ties and five lead changes as neither team led by more than three points the entire way through. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi started out hot, earning a 4-1 lead on three kills by Hullum and a combined block by Hullum and Courtney Hall. The Lady Demons evened the score at 6-6, and the teams traded points to 10-10 in the set.
The Islanders opened a small lead at 14-11 on back-to-back block assists by Tyger Holt and Hullum, a kill from Brink and another block assist by Holt, this time with Ashley Phelps helping out. NSU once again rallied, tying it at 14-14 and continuing the battle to 18-18. Kills by Brink and Hullum made it 20-18 and forced a Lady Demons timeout.
After the break, the score got as close as 22-21, but a pair of kills by Bourque put the set away at 25-23 for a 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, the Lady Demons got ahead early and it looked like they would run away with it after taking a 17-9 lead. Hall picked up a kill to make it 17-10 and started the Islanders rally. A bad set by Northwestern State was follow by a kill from Brink and another attack error to make it 17-13. Another kill by Hall and a Baresh service ace made it 17-15 before NSU would break the run.
After scoring a pair to make it a 19-15 score, the Islanders got a kill from Brink to make it 19-16 and brought in sub Brooke Alverson for the first time in the match. A block solo by Bourque, three kills from Brink and a block assist by Alverson and Hullum gave Texas A&M – Corpus Christi a 21-20 lead. Kills by Hullum and Brink got it to 23-20, another Brink kill made it set point at 24-22 and a block assist by Alverson and Hullum finished the scoring at 25-22 to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set happened in similar fashion, but the Islanders were not quite able to pull it out, falling 25-22 after being down 11 at one point in the period. Down 20-9, the team started the rally with kills by Brink, Hall and another by Brink before NSU called timeout at 21-14.
After the break, an attack error on the Lady Demons, back-to-back service aces by Nolan and a handling error on NSU made it a 22-20 score and forced another timeout by the visitors. After making it 22-21 after the stoppage, the Lady Demons scored two straight to bring it to set point and would go on to take a 25-22 final to get on the board in the match.
The final frame saw another 4-1 Islanders lead early on after kills by Brink and Alverson, a block solo by Alverson and then another successful Alverson attack to give the home team the advantage. NSU worked it back to level at 7-7, but a pair of Lady Demon errors once again gave the Islanders an advantage at 9-7.
With the score at 9-8, kills by Hullum, Haley Satterwhite, Nolan and a pair from Alverson made it a more comfortable 16-11 margin as NSU called a timeout. The Lady Demons closed to within 16-14, but a kill by Hullum and back-to-back King aces extended the lead back to five at 19-14 and forced another NSU timeout.
After the break, the Lady Demons could get no closer than 19-16 as a kill by Hall brought it to match point, and Brink's final kill of the night clinched it at 25-19 for a 3-1 Islanders win.
Next up for the team will be another home match on Saturday, this time against the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks. SFA is coming off of a 3-0 loss to Sam Houston State and are also 5-2 in Southland play. Match time is set for 1 p.m. at the Dugan Wellness Center.
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