By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
For the Wildcat volleyball team, the upcoming Lone Star Conference tournament began with the last game of the season.
“We knew we had to win,” defensive specialist Malia Plumlee said. “This was the beginning of the conference tournament for us.”
The Wildcats finished their regular season and headed into the postseason with a 30-18, 30-25, 30-22 victory over Eastern New Mexico on Saturday.
“It’s good to get this win,” head coach Kellen Mock said. “We need to stay as excited as possible and want to stay mentally tough.”
ACU finished its regular season with an 8-2 record and extended its overall record to 18-9. The Wildcats head into the postseason second in the LSC South Division and NCAA Southwest Region, with their only two conference losses against conference leaders, undefeated West Texas A&M.
Mock praised the play of middle blocker Nicole Killebrew for her performance in the match and throughout the season. Mock said that although Killebrew doesn’t post as high statistics as some of her players, her presence on the court is a big reason why the Wildcats have been successful.
“The unsung hero was Nicole Killebrew,” Mock said. “Our play can go from phenomenal to unsure and she’s always steady and confident on the front line.”
After going up early 7-2 in the first game, ACU never looked back as it beat the Eastern New Mexico Zias 30-18. ACU overpowered the Zias and led throughout the game by as much as twelve points.
Despite winning the first four points of game two, ACU conceded the lead for the first time of the match when ENMU pulled ahead after a 13-13 tie. The Wildcats and Zias tied two more times in the match, 19-19 and 23-23, before winning the second game 30-25.
ACU finished off the match with a 30-22 game three win. The Wildcats had an early 4-0 lead once more and held on throughout the game to win their seventh conference and ninth overall three-game victory.
Outside hitter Erin Curry led the Wildcats in kills with 14 and middle blocker Lauren Leone followed close behind with 12 of her own. Defensively, libero Liz Snoddy led the team with 11 digs while Plumlee was second with eight.
The Wildcats will move onto the LSC tournament on Nov. 2-4 in Lawton, Okla., to compete for their third-straight LSC championship.