Despite taking game two against the top-ranked blocking defense in the Southland, volleyball was unable to win its final match of its three-game road trip, as it fell 3-1 to Houston Baptist last weekend.
The loss was the Wildcats third straight, their last win coming against New Orleans, Sept. 30. But ACU was able to get great production from its middle blockers, freshman Lorin McNeil and junior Lauren Walker, which was something the Wildcats had worked on the week leading up to the game. The duo combined for 24 kills and 11 of the 12 team blocks.
McNeil said a good block helps immensely when setting up the offensive attack.
“We really worked on it last week. Just to not go up high, but to soft block and we got a lot of touches,” McNeil said. “It helps the back row a lot, because from our touches, even though our blocks don’t go straight down, but from the touches it helps passing and we can start our series all over again.”
After the Huskies took game one 25-18, the Wildcats responded to even the series 1-1 after a kill by McNeil and a service ace by junior setter Kendall Bosse. But HBU would take the final two games, including game four. A game where ACU led 18-12 before finding itself on the wrong end of an 8-0 run.
Junior libero Amanda Chapa contributed a career-high 31 kills in the contest. She said early on the offense had the Huskies out of its rhythm and the Wildcats in theirs.
“We were just keeping in system a lot, we did a good job getting the ball to Kendall [Bosse] and Kendall dishing to our outsides and establishing our middle early, and keeping HBU on their toes,” Chapa said. “They didn’t really know where the ball was going to go, so I think that let our hitters just have free range of any hitting option they wanted.”
However, Chapa said the last two HBU wins, in games three and four, were a result of the Huskies persistence to keep plays alive. This showed in the stats HBU recorded 85 digs, compared to ACU’s 68.
“They were really scrappy, they were getting a lot of balls up same how we were, so it was a good defensive game to be apart,” Chapa said. “I just think ultimately it may have tired us, knowing that they weren’t going to let the balls drop as easy as other teams would.”
With the loss, ACU falls just out of the top-eight with a 2-5 conference record and is right behind Incarnate Word at 3-6. The Wildcats will host the Cardinals on Saturday in what could be a pivotal match-up in regards to the conference tournament. ACU will begin the home stand Thursday night against last season’s regular-season champions in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.