CORPUS CHRISTI -- In the third matchup between Sam Houston State and A&M-Corpus Christi this season, the Islanders were able to pull out a four-set victory in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament.
The tone was set for a close match right from the beginning. The Islanders edged the Kats in an extremely tight first set, 25-23. There were five lead changes and ten ties. Wells-Gibson totaled seven kills while Haley Neisler added five.
SHSU took a 23-19 lead before the Islanders rattled off six consecutive points to take the set.
“We were hanging on defensively tonight and doing a good job but I don’t think offensively we were producing,” said Bearkat head coach Brenda Gray. “I think Corpus had a good match tonight. We were trying to hang on and I could see that we were losing gas.”
It was more of the same in the second set, but this time the Bearkats rallied to win it 27-25. SHSU trailed AMCC 22-18 before coming back to tie it at 22. The Kats would still have to sweat it out as the Islanders would come back to tie it up three more times before the end.
A&M-Corpus Christi led most of the third set before the Kats tied it up at 19. But the Islanders were able to finish off the set. The fourth set was similar and the Bearkats tied it up late but were unable to hold off the Islanders.
Wells-Gibson led all players with 27 kills on a total of 83 attacks. Haley Neisler added 13 kills and Lauren Bohlen had 11 kills.
The Islanders had four players put up double-digit kill totals. Brianna Brink had 16, Ashley Phelps had 14, Sarah Sanchez had 13 and Ivey Baresh finished with 10 kills.
The loss is the final match for seniors Tayler Gray, Haley Neisler and Lauren Bohlen. After the match coach Gray reflected on being able to coach her daughter for four years.
“Honestly it doesn’t feel like this is our last match together. It’s going to be extremely hard not coaching my kid,” Gray said. “She bleeds the game like I bleed the game. She has the same passion, love and desire. I don’t think I’ve really come to the realization yet.”
The Bearkats finished the season with a 17-11 overall record while A&M-Corpus Christi stands 20-11 headed into the Southland Tournament semifinals.
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