The Wildcats three-game road trip that began with McNeese comes to a close Saturday night against the top-ranked blocking team in the conference in Houston Baptist.
ACU enters the match after Nicholls State staved off a late comeback and upset the Wildcats in Thibodaux, Louisiana last weekend. The Colonels jumped out to a two-set lead with a dominant 25-12 win in game one and a 25-22 victory in set two. The Wildcats responded with a 25-21 win and a convincing victory of their own in game four, 25-16. However, it was Nicholls holding off ACU 15-8 in the final set.
The team’s road doesn’t get any easier, as it takes on two top-five teams in HBU and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi over the next week.
Not only do the Huskies boast the top blocking unit in the Southland, led by Blair Gillard with 1.41 per set, but they also bring the second-best attack in the league. HBU averages 13.76 kills per set, just behind Central Arkansas’ 13.97. The offensive attack is spearheaded by another league leader in Bailey Banks, who is averaging 3.84 kills per set.
Junior libero Lillian Drever, who has been splitting time with sophomore Amanda Chapa at the position, said the defense will have to respond quicker to the flow of the game.
“One thing that we’ve gotten better at is just being stopped on defense and then reacting and just going for it,” Drever said. “I think we can see what the other team is doing earlier and just going for that.”
For the Wildcat’s attack, freshman Katelyn Mueller, who is second on the team in kills with 161 said the offense has practiced finishing over the last week.
“I think for the offense we’re just really working on putting it away when we really need to,” Mueller said. “We’ve been working on our block a lot too and just slowing down hits, so I think that’ll motivate our hitters to swing high and swing hard and then motivate our block to get just as many good touches.”
As of now, ACU finds itself in eighth place in the regular season Southland Conference standings. If the season ended today, the Wildcats would find themselves in the conference tournament, but pitted against the No. 1 seed in the first round. After Saturday, four of the team’s remaining games are against top-five competition, and just three come against teams outside the top-eight.