Volleyball earned a crucial win Saturday night when it defeated Northwestern State in four sets and retained the eighth spot in the conference standings.
The win came on the heels of a three-set loss to Central Arkansas, which left the Wildcats on the edge of the top-eight. ACU dropped the first set against the Lady Demons 25-15, marking four straight games in which the Wildcats had come out on the losing end. But the team rallied in the next set in a big way.
With the game knotted at five after junior Lauren Walker converted a kill, NSU regained the lead at 6-5. But something clicked for the Wildcats and with junior setter Kendall Bosse at the service line, ACU ripped off 15 straight points, accented by back-to-back kills from freshman Lorin McNeil and Katelyn Mueller.
The Lady Demons were able to rattle off a 9-1 run of their own to bring the game to 22-15, but the Wildcats evened the match at 1-1 with a 25-16 victory.
Games three and four were more tightly contested, but ACU took both 25-22 to secure the win. The win improved the women’s record to 9-14 overall and 5-6 conference, while Northwestern State 13-14 and 8-4 in Southland competition. Junior Jacey Smith, who clinched the win with a service ace, finished the game with a team-high 11 kills. Sophomore Mary Beth Sandercox added to the attack with nine kills of her own. Sandercox also aided McNeil on the defensive side of the net, recording four blocks to go along with McNeil’s team-high of five.
The Wildcats finish a three-game home stand Tuesday night against another top-three opponent in Sam Houston State, who sits at 9-2 in conference play. ACU’s other top-three match up over the last week was against UCA on Thursday.
While the Wildcats are in a position to make the tournament, the team will need to string together a few more wins. Following Tuesday’s match, the team will return home for a pair of games against top-ranked Stephen F. Austin and last place Lamar.
At 4-8, both New Orleans and Incarnate Word will be looking to capitalize on any Wildcat losses the rest of the way. ACU does get a chance for a head-to-head match up against UIW the second to last match of the season. A game that could be decisive in terms of the final tournament picture.