The ACU volleyball team concluded its first weekend of tournament play at the Hampton Inn Waco North Baylor Invitational on Saturday.
The Wildcats fell short, losing all three matches against Baylor University, University of Portland, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
“We didn’t perform the way we wanted to this weekend,” said Jason Bibler, head coach. “We were all disappointed with our overall performance. We failed to play in the same ways that we had been practicing the last three weeks.”
ACU played its first match against Baylor Friday night in front of 747 fans and lost in three matches with scored of 25-15, 25-20 and 25-8.
The ‘Cats tied the score early in the first set, then trailed the Bears by two points before they busted it open with a nine-point rally against ACU. Baylor kept the rally going by capitalizing on three of ACU’s errors.
The second and third sets were not as close, as the Wildcats quickly fell behind and could not stay within a three-point range.
Jennifer Loerch, junior outside hitter, and Stephanie Schoelman, freshman outside hitter, led the ‘Cats with nine kills, followed by Taylor Nix, senior outside hitter, with seven kills. Schoelman also had six digs in her first game as a Wildcat, and Madison Hoover, junior libero, had 11 digs.
The team looked to redeem themselves Saturday afternoon against Portland, but was again defeated in three matches, 25-16, 25-23 and 25-11. The Pilots ran away with the first match, beating ACU with a lead of nine points.
The Wildcats responded well in the second match with a comfortable 8-0 lead, taking advantage of three Portland errors. However, the Pilots fought back, eventually tying the score at 18. The ‘Cats maintained a close game, but eventually fell 25-23. The third match was dominated by Portland from start to finish as they quickly finished the game with an 11-4 run.
Loerch and Schoelman both had six kills, followed by Lexi Mercier, sophomore middle blocker, with five kills and four blocks for the Wildcats. Loerch led the Wildcats again in the third game with 12 kills and was later named to the Hampton Inn Waco North Baylor Invitational All-Tournament Team.
In their third and final game, the Wildcats fell to its Southland Conference adversary Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. For the third time in the tournament, the Wildcats lost in three matches, 25-28 in the first two and 25-22 in the last.
After being defeated by the Islanders in the first two games, the Wildcats didn’t go down without a fight in the third match. ACU called its second timeout after the Islanders went on a seven-point streak, leading the Wildcats at 23-17. The ‘Cats then rallied, soon trailing Corpus Christi by two points at 24-22, but the Islanders took the match in the next play when Brianna Brink made her final kill for the night.
“We have to keep pushing to get better each day,” Bibler said. “If we find ourselves settling for where we are, we will find ourselves losing those matches. We have to earn every point and every set we play. No one is giving us any freebies this season. The better we understand that, the more successful we will be this season.”