By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
The 20th ranked Wildcat volleyball team was unable to repeat its 2005 first place finish at the Premier Challenge Tournament in Denver, Colo., this weekend after finishing with a 1-3 tournament record and dropping the overall record to 3-5.
All 12 teams that competed in Denver, including ACU, are among or just shy of the top 25 preseason poll developed by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
ACU’s only win of the tournament was a five-game battle against regional opponents and co-hosts Metro State. After conceding the first and third games to Metro, the Wildcats’ came from behind to win the final two games of the match 31-29 and 15-13. None of ACU’s three wins have been in less than five games.
“[Metro] was a great game for us in regional rankings; it gives us respect in our region,” said head coach Kellen Mock.
Last week’s LSC offensive player of the week, junior outside hitter Abbie Lowry, led the team in kills against Metro with 18.
All three of ACU’s losses during the tournament were against teams ranked in the national top 10-Washburn, Minnesota-Duluth and Central Missouri State.
In the tournament opener against No. 7 Washburn, ACU fell in four games to the 6-2 Lady Blues. and 30-21 before losing the third game 30-23. Washburn halted any Wildcat comeback though in the fourth game by finishing the match with a final 30-26 win.
No. 5 Duluth defeated the Wildcats for the second time of the season on day two of the tournament. ACU lost to Duluth at the Northern Michigan Tournament on Aug. 26 and fell once more on Saturday. Duluth defeated the wildcats in three games in both encounters, and ACU lost 30-18, 30-21 and 30-18 in Denver.
The Wildcats fourth and final match of the tournament was another loss, this time to No. 10 Central Missouri State. Central Missouri finished the tournament with a four game victory over ACU.
Despite finishing with a losing record, Mock is optimistic about the benefits playing such hard competition during the preseason brought.
“This schedule gives us more experience,” Mock said. “You won’t be a top 10 team in the nation if you don’t go and compete against top ten teams in the nation.”
The Wildcats are 3-5 in the preseason and will play its final preseason tournament at home on Saturday when they host a tournament against Ouachita Baptist, Missouri Southern and Lubbock Christian.