Volleyball Drops Opening Match to UC Irvine, 3-1

DENVER, Colo. – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi volleyball team dropped a close opening match of the season to UC Irvine 3-1 (25-23, 24-26, 25-21, 25-21) Friday in the Pioneer Classic at Hamilton Gymnasium. Sophomore Ivy Baresh tallied a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs to lead the Islanders (0-1) while senior Logen Bourque recorded 35 assists and nine digs. Ashley Phelps and Brianna Brink also contributed with a combined 17 kills. Brink also registered a career-high five block assists.    

UC Irvine (1-0) edged the Islanders 25-23 in the opening set before the Islanders bounced back to squeeze out a 26-24 second set. The Anteaters then rallied back to capture the next two sets to take a 3-1 match.

The Islanders and Anteaters battled back and forth in the opening set until consecutive attacking errors by the Islanders and a kill by Cassidy Pickrell pushed UC Irvine ahead 17-14. After an Islanders' timeout, a pair of kills by the Anteaters and an attacking error by the Islanders gave the Anteaters a 20-14 advantage. Bourque followed with a kill to cut the lead to five. However, a service error and ball handling error cost the Islanders two straight points and UC Irvine took a 22-15 lead. Baresh followed with a kill of her own to make it 22-16 and after an attacking error, Brink kept the Islanders in it with a kill to make it 23-18. The Islanders would be faced with match point after a service error, however, the team rallied back to score five straight points, including back-to-back service aces by Renee Ramirez to trim the lead to 24-23. A kill by Aly Squires ended the first set with UC Irvine in front 25-23.

In the second set, the Islanders trailed by as many as six early on but back-to-back kills by freshman Abby Whitehead jumpstarted a rally at 14-10. The Islanders built a 4-0 run with a service ace by Shayla Maldonado, a kill by Phelps, and consecutive hitting mishaps by the Anteaters to cut the deficit to 16-13. The Islanders would once again rally back to score four straight points with the Islanders capitalizing on three Anteaters' errors and a service ace by Baresh. With the Islanders trailing by one, Brink put away a kill to knot the score at 21. Both teams would trade points back and forth until an attack error by the Anteaters gave the Islanders a 24-23 lead. After an Arielle Manz kill, Whitehead evened the score with her third kill of the set. The Islanders then sealed the second set victory, 26-24, after a ball handling error by UC Irvine.

The third and fourth sets mirrored each other with the Islanders falling 25-21. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi jumped out to an early 8-5 lead and held the lead until UC Irvine evened the score at 10. The Islanders would hang onto the lead at 17-15 and Baresh kept the Islanders in front with a kill at 20-18. However, three straight Islanders' errors would give the Anteaters their first lead of the set at 21-20. After an Islanders' timeout, Baresh knotted the score with her fourth kill of the set, but back-to-back Anteater kills and consecutive hitting errors by the Islanders lifted UC Irvine to a 25-21 third-set victory.

The Anteaters carried over their momentum into the final set and jumped out to a 12-9 lead and held the advantage until consecutive errors gave the Islanders a 16-15 lead. Both teams battled until the Anteaters pushed ahead by two to force the Islanders to call a timeout at 22-20. An Islanders' hitting error made it 23-20, before Baresh recorded her 13th kill of the night to pull the Islanders within two. UC Irvine followed with a kill by Squires and garnered the fourth set and the match after an Islanders' hitting error. 

The Islanders will be back tomorrow against Denver and Air Force to wrap the Pioneer Classic. The first match against the Pioneers is set for 1 p.m. CST with the Islanders schedule to face Air Force at 6 p.m. CST.

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