SAN ANGELO, Texas - Led by double-doubles from senior Madison Brabham (Kingwood, Texas) and freshman Emily North(Red Oak, Texas), the Texas A&M-Kingsville volleyball team opened the 2018 campaign with a 25-23, 28-30, 25-19, 27-25 victory over the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls at Stephens Arena at the Junell Center in San Angelo, Texas on Fridaymorning.
This makes five straight seasons coach Tanya Allen has seen her team start with a victory and her overall mark in lidlifters now stands at 6-2.
For Brabham, her totals of 22 kills and 16 assists allow the senior to match the number of double-doubles she accumulated last year. Her kill total and attack percentage of .439 were both the best among all match participants. Her mark of nine digs put her just one shy of a triple-double.
North secured an impressive debut with a match-high 34 assists to go with 11 digs. Freshman Nicole Murff's (San Antonio, Texas) 26 scoops were a match-high, followed closely by junior Loren Washington's (Austin, Texas) 25. Freshman Kailey Estrada's(San Antonio, Texas) eight block assists were more than double that of any other player.
The Javelinas (1-0) grabbed the first three points in set one, capping the spurt with a block by Estrada and Melanie Casteel(Dallas,Texas), but the Cowgirls would soon rally to even the frame at six. NMHU (0-1) took the lead at 8-7 and they would hold it for most of the set, going ahead by as many as four at 19-15, but that's when TAMUK went to work, scoring 10 of the next 14, capped by Brabham's fifth smash of the game for a 1-0 advantage.
The lead for most of the second stanza belonged to the Javs, who led by as many as four, a margin they held three times, including a 20-16 bulge that forced NMHU's Dwight Combs to call a timeout. Out of the stoppage, the Cowgirls found a rhythm, taking six of the next seven rallies to go up 22-21. The lead was passed back and forth until NMHU's first match point came at 25-24. While the Javelinas staved off the first four, an attack error by Casteel sealed the deal at 30-28.
The third set started out all Javelinas, as they took seven of nine points, a spurt that included three finishers from Brabham. The Cowgirls found some momentum of their own and forged an 8-8 tie, but another successful swing from Brabham gave the Blue and Gold a lead they'd never relinquish. The Javelinas kept pushing and earned a 22-19 advantage before winning three of the final four and Haley Hutchinson's (Georgetown, Texas) successful attack put her side in front 2-1.
In the fourth game, TAMUK led by four three times before an 8-2 run allowed the Cowgirls to take the initiative at 22-20. Soon after, the Cowgirls earned a pair of set points at 24-23 and 25-24, but attacks from Casteel and Brabham thwarted those opportunities. Brabham and Estrada team up for another block to provide the Javs with their first match-point and the senior from Kingwood sent her 22nd and final kill of the contest to the hardwood to clinch the victory.
The Javelinas will play again on Friday at 2 p.m. against Arkansas-Fort Smith. Day two of the Kathleen Brasfield Invitational begins bright and early for the Javs with an 8 a.m. matchup against St. Mary's and concludes when they take on East Central University at 4 p.m. Links to live stats and video for every match are available on Javelinaathletics.com, which is also where you'll be able to find a complete recap post game. To keep up with everything related to Javelina volleyball all season long, follow @JavelinaVB on Twitter and @javelinasports on Instagram, like Javelina Volleyball on Facebook and visit Javelinasports.com.