By Jared Fields, Sports Editor
After a disappointing start to the 2005 volleyball season, ACU head coach Brek Horn said she hopes to get her team heading in the right direction this weekend at the Premier Challenge in Denver. The team lost its first three games of the season last weekend in Florida but has a chance to redeem itself in Denver.
The Wildcats will play sixth-ranked Concordia-St. Paul at 1 p.m. on Friday, then at 8:30 p.m. will play co-host school Regis University. The results of Friday’s games will determine Saturday’s games. Out of the four pools of 12 teams, the first place teams will play in the gold bracket, second place teams in the silver, and the third place teams will compete in the bronze bracket.
After missing last weekend’s tournament to stay home with her newborn daughter, coach Horn will join the team in Colorado. Assistant coach Sarah Carthel held the reigns last weekend, but will join Horn on the sideline this season. Horn may not have been in Florida, but she said she knows that her team needs a win.
“We need a win; we need some confidence,” Horn said. “I wouldn’t say our confidence is low, but there are a few places in our whole unit that aren’t quite there. So if we don’t have all six, seven, eight or whatever amount of players on the same page, then we’re going to have a breakdown.”
Of the 12 teams scheduled to be in Denver, six are ranked in the national top 25 poll, and four others, including the Wildcats, received votes. Last year’s national champion, Barry (Fla.) will be present, along with three other pre-season top ten teams.
The team’s first opponent, Concordia-St. Paul, is 3-1 to begin the season. Its only loss came agianst Truman State, which was the national runner-up last year, and is ranked second in the nation this year.
Regis is 1-3 to start the year, with their only win coming against Drury University.
The Wildcats will be led by senior Michelle Bernhardt, who had 47 kills last weekend, and senior Lindsey Martin, who set the team’s all-time assist record last weekend with 109 to pass Horn’s younger sister, Brittney Binder, for the lead. Senior Amanda Slate was last year’s LSC South Division MVP and scored six total service aces in the team’s first three games.
After the tournament in Colorado, the team will return and play its first home game of the year against Wayland Baptist University at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10.
“We’re going to get better and try to win some this weekend,” Horn said. “Then try to come back home. I’m ready to play at home.”