November 21, 2013

Islanders, Bearkats Meet in Opening Round of Southland Conference Tournament

       TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (19-11, 13-5 SLC) VS. SAM HOUSTON STATE (17-10, 14-4 SLC)  

                   Southland Conference Tournament • Friday, Nov. 22 • 6:30 p.m. • Dugan Wellness Center • Corpus Christi, Texas

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CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi volleyball team will host the Southland Conference Tournament this weekend for the first time in program history. The team will make its second consecutive appearance in the tournament and third overall on Friday when it takes on Sam Houston State at 6:30 p.m. in the Dugan Wellness Center. The Islanders hold a school-best 13-5 conference mark and are looking for its first tournament win in school history.

The Islanders (19-11, 13-5 SLC) and Bearkats (17-10, 14-4 SLC) meet for the third time this season. On Saturday, the Islanders cruised to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-23) victory over Sam Houston State at the Dugan to wrap the regular season. Prior to that, the Islanders dropped a 3-0 loss in Huntsville, but went on to win seven straight matches. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has won its last five out of six matches. 

Last season, the Islanders fell in the opening round of the conference tournament to Oral Roberts 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-18). Prior to that, the Islanders advanced to the Southland Conference tournament in 2006 and lost 3-1 to UT Arlington.

For the first time in program history, the Islanders had two players named First Team All-Southland Conference on Wednesday, with senior Logen Bourque and sophomore Ivy Baresh earning First Team All-Southland honors. Junior Brianna Brink earned honorable mention accolades for the second straight year. 

Throughout her four years, Bourque has been a consistent leader for the Islanders' offense. Bourque, the Islanders' career assist leader with 4,420 assists is currently ranked 18th in the nation in assists and second in the conference (11.35 assists per set). The Houston native has passed out 1,214 assists this season, which ranks first in Islanders history for a single season. She also recently garnered sole possession of second place all-time in career digs with 1,074, and is currently ranked fourth with 74 career service aces.

As of Monday, Bourque and the Islanders were ranked 25th in the nation in digs (16.79) and 33rd in the nation in assists (13.05), which are both good for second place in the conference. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi sits in third place in the conference with 13.71 kills per set. 

Baresh leads the Islanders with 3.42 kills per set, which is good for seventh place in the conference. She also leads the Islanders in digs with 3.63 per set, which ranks 11th in the conference, and she is 13th in the conference in service aces. This season, Baresh has collected 15 double-doubles and has been a consistent all-around player for the Islanders. Ashley Phelps is right behind Baresh on the team with 3.25 kills per set while Brink is averaging 3.10 kills per set (10th SLC). 

Defensively, Hailey King, Shayla Maldonado and Baresh power the team. King is averaging 3.59 digs per set (13th SLC) with 352 digs on the year and Maldonado is averaging 4.44 digs per set in conference play, which ranks sixth in conference matches only.

The Bearkats are led by first team all-conference outside hitter Deveney Wells-Gibson with a league-leading 4.63 kills per set. Tayler Gray, also a first team all-conference honoree, runs the offense with 10.83 assists per set and Haley Neisler leads the team defensively with 1.13 blocks per set. Also helping the Bearkats defensively is Breanna Homer with 4.05 digs per set.

Friday's match will mark the 27th meeting between the two schools in program history. Sam Houston State holds the 19-7 series advantage. In the last meeting, Phelps powered the Islanders' offense with 12 kills and Brink tallied 11 kills. Bourque collected her 12th double-double of the season with 39 assists and 10 digs while Maldonado recorded 16 digs and King notched 12 digs to propel the defense.

The winner will advance to the semifinals on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and will face the winner of the No. 1 Central Arkansas vs. No. 8 Stephen F. Austin match. 

Friday's and Saturday's matches will be streamed live on the Southland Conference Digital Network, available HERE. Sunday's championship match will be carried on ESPN3 HERE. Live stats for the Islanders match can be found HERE and for in-match updates of the Islanders matches check out Islanders Volleyball on Twitter (@IslandersVB).

Tickets for the tournament can be purchased by calling the Islanders ticket office at (361) 825-BALL (2255) or online HERE.

For all the latest on Islanders Volleyball, like the team on Facebook (IslandersVolleyball) and follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@IslandersVB).