Junior Jacey Smith led the game with 19 kills, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Wildcats from falling to McNeese State in four sets.
Neither team got off to a great start, as the Wildcats committed 12 errors to the Cowgirls’ nine in the first two games. But early on McNeese found away to pull away in each set.
“We had a ton of unforced errors, and that’s something we need to be better at,” said head coach Angela Mooney. “Too many blocking, service errors, even hitting errors, was really inconsistent, we had a hard time getting our hitters going.”
In the first set, ACU trailed 14-11 after freshman Katelyn Mueller aced her serve. But McNeese rattled off five-straight points to take a commanding 19-11 lead and eventually win the game 25-19.
After yielding another big scoring run to start game two, the Wildcats found themselves falling 25-18 and in a 2-0 hole heading into the short break.
The team rallied in the third set, outscoring the Cowgirls 10-4 and forcing a timeout after a Mueller kill. McNeese pulled within two at 23-21, but consecutive kills by Mueller and freshman Lorin McNeil clinched the win.
“In set three we came out with a different mindset, we served aggressive, we controlled the serve and pass. We talked about that in the break that we wanted to control the serve and the pass and I think that we did that,” Mooney said.
Unfortunately, none of ACU’s momentum from the third set victory transferred to the fourth set. It was all Cowgirls in the final frame, building its biggest lead of nine before shutting the door on a Wildcat comeback, with a 25-17 win. Smith’s 19th kill of the match did cut the lead to 19-13 after a ACU timeout, but McNeese did not let up.
With the loss ACU is now 0-2 in Southland Conference play, and after going undefeated at home in 2016, the Wildcats are winless in Moody Coliseum this season.
Meanwhile, McNeese improves to 2-1 in the Southland Conference and sits in a three-way tie for fourth.
ACU welcomes Southeastern Louisiana Thursday night and New Orleans on Saturday to close out it’s conference-opening four-game home stand.