CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The TAMU-CC beach volleyball team captured their first Southland Conference championship with a thrilling victory over Houston Baptist last weekend.
They also qualified for the prestigious NCAA national tournament which starts next week in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The victory was extra sweet since the Islanders lost a heart breaker in last year's final.
"That runner-up finish hurt so much and I think all the returners used it as motivation to become better this year and it paid off," said Islanders junior Giuliana Poletti.
This year's team is made up of players from all over the world and while head coach Gayle Stammer loves her players from the United States and Texas especially, she admits to compete against the best, she must recruit world wide.
"We will always have players from other countries on our team," said Stammer. "They usually come into the program with more experience since they have been playing at a top level for their country."
The roster includes players from Paraguay, Chili and Lithuania.
Getting them to a university on an island was an easy sell. Migle Mazurkeviciute from Lithuania loves Corpus Christi despite a few obstacles.
"Texas is really windy, humid and hot but people are really welcoming," said Mazurkeviciute. "The school is next to an ocean so we get to swim a lot and the beach is a lot of fun. We get to spend a lot of time in the sun and we don't get much sun back home."
The Islanders will be one of 16 teams competing in the NCAA national tournament.