In front of a raucous Dig Pink crowd of 1,123 in the Dugan Wellness Center, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi battled its way to a 25-20, 27-25, 26-24, sweep of Stephen F. Austin behind another balanced offensive attack.
Fighting for first, Thursday's Dig Pink match was exactly the type of struggle one would expect from the last two undefeated teams in Southland play.
"It was definitely a battle," said head coach Steve Greene. "3-0 looks good on the stat sheet, but every set was back-and-forth and both teams had opportunities to win each set. We were lucky to come out on top each time."
Veteran pin hitters Brittany Gilpin and Morgan Carlson led the Islanders (10-6, 5-0) with 11 kills apiece as six different Islanders recorded at least five kills. Defensively, Kate Klepetka outdueled Lexus Cain in a battle of perhaps the top two liberos in the Southland, finishing with 21 digs to hold Stephen F. Austin (11-7, 4-1) to a .179 hitting percentage.
In a seesawing opening set, the Blue and Green used a 6-1 run to pull away from a 15-15 deadlock. Gilpin keyed the run with three kiils while Madeleine Doud and Morgan Carlson culminated the decisive run with a thunderous block.
The second set was even tighter, with both teams deadlocked from 18-18 to the finish. A ball handling error on SFA gave the Islanders the opening they needed as Gilpin did the honors with the final kill to take the set in extras, 27-25.
In the final set, it was A&M-Corpus Christi who had to rally late, erasing a 20-18 deficit before Doud finished the match with her ninth kill of the night.
It's become a common theme for the Islanders, but A&M-Corpus Christi again used a well-balanced attack to top SFA. Six different Islanders scored and each of those six tallied five kills or more.
Setter Kristyn Nicholson kept the Ladyjack block off-kilter with 34 assists, whipping the ball across the court while adding five kills of her own.
"I think that's what makes it tough to defend against us," said Greene. "If one hitter gets hot for a couple of rotations, we set her the ball. We can move it around in certain situations and if we find a matchup we like, we'll exploit it as best we can. I thought Kristyn Nicholson did a great job spreading it out tonight. SFA is a good blocking team, so it wasn't easy for her, but I thought she did a great job setting."
Nicholson finished the match with a double-double, adding 10 digs to her 24 assists.
Doud hit .692, recording nine kills in 13 error free attacks.
Madi Fitzsimmons added eight kills and Mallory Moran seven to round out the Islander attack.
Entering the night, the Islanders were one of just seven teams in the country yet to drop a set in conference play. The Blue and Green's sweep of SFA is the fifth-straight to open Southland play and matches their five consecutive sweeps to open play a year ago.
The Islanders close out the weekend with a 1 p.m. first serve Saturday against Sam Houston State in the Dugan Wellness Center.