CORPUS CHRISTI (ISLANDERS ATHLETICS) - Another balanced attack for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi carried the Islanders to a 25-22, 26-24, 25-20 sweep of Lamar Saturday afternoon in the Dugan Wellness Center.
The Islanders (13-7, 8-0) got at least eight kills from for different players, led by Brittany Gilpin's 11, to push past a pesky Cardinals squad in straight sets. Madi Fitzsimmons fell just shy of double-figures with nine kills in the middle while Morgan Carlson and Claire Karsten added eight each at the pins.
While a sweep, Lamar (3-16, 3-4) pushed the Islanders to the edge in the first and second sets. Led by Chelsea Grant with 13 kills and Ivette Dim with 11, the Cardinals held late leads in each of the first two sets.
"Lamar's a tough team to play and they've gone to five sets in five of their seven conference matches now," said head coach Steve Greene. "To get out of here 3-0 makes me feel really good. It wasn't an easy match at all, they've got really athletic kids all over the court and that causes some challenges for your block and defense. I thought we got consistently better and better with each set."
Trailing 21-22 in the first, A&M-Corpus Christi used a 4-0 run, punctuated with back-to-back blocks to close the set. Fitzsimmons and Karsten teamed up to reject Dim to give the Islanders set point before Carlson jumped with Fitzsimmons for the final point.
In the second, Lamar reached set point at 24-23, but the Islanders regrouped following a timeout to go on a 3-0 run and take a commanding 2-0 lead at the break.
The Islanders took command a bit earlier in the third, utilizing a 3-0 run which included a Morgan Williams ace to build an 18-16 lead. The Blue and Green never looked back, forcing three attack errors from the Cardinals to close out the seventh sweep of the season.
BUILDING THE ATTACK
The Islanders improved offensively in each set Saturday afternoon, hitting just .219 in the first before finish at .279 and .306 in the second and third.
• Gilpin's 11 kills mark the fifth consecutive match and 17th overall this season.
• Karsten's eight kills off the bench set a new best in Southland matches for the freshman.
• Kristyn Nicholson added five kills while dishing out 31 assists to drive the attack
Libero Kate Klepetka racked up her fifth consecutive match with 15 or more digs. Following her 17 on Saturday, she now averages 5.11 digs per set on the year and ranks amongst the top 20 nationally.
In Southland play, her average climbs to 5.49 digs per set to lead the league. Klepetka also added her second kill of the season against the Cardinals.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Madison Woods provided a highlight reel moment in the third set with a pancake dig to set up a Gilpin kill.
"Today our gameplan was about putting in a little extra effort," said Greene. "We had some excellent rallies where we did just a bit extra to make some big plays. There's one where Maddie Woods makes a great pancake dig and we transition well for an easy kill. Those are the kinds of things we're looking to do down the stretch."
SECOND HALF START
The Islanders return to action next Thursday and Saturday as the back half of the Southland Conference season opens with a road trip to New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana.