Islanders Volleyball Sweeps UTRGV in Home Opener

The Islanders made their home debut in 2016 after winning the Southland Conference last season.

CORPUS CHRISTI (ISLANDERS ATHLETICS) - In the first home event of the South Texas Showdown presented by NavyArmy Community Credit Union, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rode a raucous crowd to a 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 25-20 over UT Rio Grande Valley Tuesday night in the Dugan Wellness Center.
 
It was a night in which the Islanders (3-3) attack took a bit to get churning, but clicked when it mattered most to pull away in the third and fourth sets.
 
"We pride ourselves on our ball control, our passing and our defense," said head coach Steve Greene. "So if our offense gets off to a slow start it's not the end of the world for us. We focused on our blocking and defense, but I think part of it was the jitters. We had 1,000 fans in here and a great student section. Sometimes we get a little too excited and it hurts our offensive numbers, but we were able to get it turned around and have a great set in three and four."
 
Junior Brittany Gilpin once again led the Blue and Green, rolling up 16 kills for a fifth consecutive match in double-digits. The outside also dug up 13 Vaquero attacks for her third double-double of the season.
 
The opening set victory was powered by a stout defense as the Islanders held the Vaqueros to a -.100 hitting percentage in the 25-20 win. Madeleine Doud was a force Tuesday night, rejecting seven attacks and finding her groove offensively for a season-high 10 kills.
 
"I felt great," said Doud. "Our setter Kristyn kept feeding me the ball and I was ready. When you play such a good blocking team like UTRGV, you really have to be up and ready. I think we were really able to do that tonight."
 
Doud's success was always in the making according to her head coach.
 
"She's been doing an awesome job in practice," said Greene. "Day-in and day-out she's been working really hard. It hadn't really shown up in matches until tonight, but I'm really excited for her to see it come into fruition at the first home match."
 
After UTRGV (4-3) roared to a 25-18 win in the second set thanks to a .302 hitting percentage, the Islanders clamped down defensively, holding the Vaqueros to under .200 hitting in the final two sets. Meanwhile, the Blue and Green attack shifted into gear.
 
Gilpin knocked 11 of her team-best 16 kills to the floor in the final two sets. Doud added five of her 10 in the decisive frames while freshman Claire Karsten came off the bench with an additional six kills.
 
BACK ROW DIG
 
While Doud and the blockers racked up 10 total blocks, the Islander back row turned into a digging maching.
 
Libero Kate Klepetka paced the Islanders with 15 digs while defensive specialist Madison Woods added a season-best 12. Along with the two defenders, Gilpin chipped 13 digs as part of her double-double.
 
ISLANDER INSIGHT
 
• Setter Kristyn Nicholson racked up 45 assists. She also had 4 kills and 9 digs falling just shy of a double-double.
• The victory marked the 19-consecutive win for the Islanders in the Dugan Wellness Center. The streak dates to 2014.
• Senior Morgan Carlson chipped in eight kills on the night.
 
CLASSIC WEEKEND
 
The Islanders welcome UNLV and UT Arlington on Friday and Saturday for the Islanders Classic. The Blue and Green will play at 1 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.


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