EDINBURG — Texas A&M-Corpus Christi entered Tuesday’s matchup against UTRGV red hot, recording a 12-2 set record en route to four straight wins.
The Vaqueros cooled down their South Texas rival during their home opener Tuesday, snapping the Islanders’ four-game winning streak with a 25-23, 15-25, 25-23, 26-24 victory over the Islanders at UTRGV Fieldhouse.
The win marks the third in four matches for UTRGV, moving it to 4-3 on the year, while extending the Vaqueros’ win streak against the Islanders to four.
“It is definitely really big and exciting every year when we beat them” UTRGV junior Perris Key said. “I think it just helps us further down the season in having a little more confidence because they’re super scrappy and you have to really dig down.”
Trailing 24-22 during the fourth set, UTRGV leaned on its raucous crowd to help spark the comeback. A kill by Claudia Lupescu sent the fans into a frenzy, with the Vaqueros feeding off the energy.
A bad set by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Kendall Mahaney tied the game for the Vaqueros, with Lupescu following it up with another kill to give UTRGV a 25-24 lead. Lupescu finished with seven kills, five digs and three assists in two sets played.
Riding the momentum, UTRGV completed the comeback, forcing another Islanders’ error to secure the win.
“In a match like this the crowd really makes a difference,” UTRGV head coach Todd Lowery said. “We got down by four or five a couple of times, but we were able to come back in those sets. The crowd plays a big part in keeping us emotionally involved. Hats off to Corpus. They changed personnel and chaos comes every year. They play so fast and pass the ball so well that it puts a lot of pressure on us. We have a lot of new kids on the court. We warned them and talked about it, but until you see it, it is something you’ve never seen before. Just proud of the way we hung in and were able to get win in the end.”
Junior Perris Key played a pivotal role in the Vaqueros victory, setting the tone during the opening set with five kills during the 25-23 victory. Key finished with a team-high 12 kills and a career-high tying 17 digs, also adding two aces and 1.5 blocks.
Setter Luanna Emiliano added another double-double for the Vaqueros, finishing with 39 assists, and 14 digs along with six kills. Luisa Silva Dos Santos and Nadine Zech added 10 kills each.
The Vaqueros (4-3) continue nonconference play with a pair of contests during the Islanders Classic this weekend at the Dugan Wellness Center in Corpus Christi.
They’ll kick it off with a rematch against the Islanders (4-2) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a contest against Tulane at 1 p.m. Sunday.