By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
The ACU volleyball team entered the last weekend of the Lone Star Conference regular season confident they would win at least one of its last two matches of the regular season to qualify for the LSC Post-Season Tournament.
Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville had other plans.
The Wildcats only needed one victory to clinch a spot in the postseason, but were unable to knock off the TexAnns and Ja-velinas, two teams with combined 30-36 records.
The Cats dropped the match against A&M-Kingsville 23-30, 28-30, 28-30, while Tarleton took the match in three games, 34-32, 30-23, 30-22.
Head coach Brek Horn said the weekend was difficult to handle.
“It was a disappointing weekend for us because we wanted to win,” said Horn, whose Cats finished the season 18-14 overall. “Losing the first game against Tarlton really knocked the wind out of us. If that first game had gone in our favor, I think the outcome would have come out with us on top.”
ACU, which lost three of its last four LSC South Division matches and finished with a 4-6 record in LSC South, struggled without junior outside hitter Haylee Hartline, who separated her right shoulder in the loss against Tarlton.
Hartline, who led the Cats in kills prior to her injury, said her shoulder is still hurting, but that she is at a loss for words concerning the bittersweet end to the Cats’ season and senior defensive specialist Grae Grimes’ career.
“After last Tuesday’s match (a win over Incarnate Word) I thought we were on our way up, but I really don’t know what happened,” Hartline said. “After my injury, coach Horn made a lot of changes and everyone seemed to have an off game, except for Grae and she can’t do it all by herself.”
Hartline said the Cats looked uncomfortable against Kingsville, which was surprising because of their versatility. But she said the season was not a total waste.
“One of my goals was to exceed everyone’s expectations,” Hartline said. “Even though we finished in fourth place, I think we exceeded everyone’s expectations. I’m proud of my team.”
Horn was saddened by the way Grimes’ Wildcat career ended.
“We’ve been to the LSC tournament in all of her years here,” Horn said. “With it being her senior year, I think she did a good job. It was difficult for her because the team was so young. There was so much learning to be done.”
But Horn said the team has a lot to look forward to for next season.
“I feel like we have so many positive things because we will be returning so many core players,” Horn said. “Plus, we all have a year of experience under our belt.”