By Michael Freeman, Assistant Sports Editor
To senior outside hitter Abbie Lowry, height does not matter much on the volleyball court, but heart does. And although this year’s Wildcat volleyball team is not as tall as in years’ past, it’s the heart that will bring success this season.
“Two years ago, we were a big team. We had a lot of really tall people,” Lowry said. “This year, we only have two girls over six foot. I don’t think that will make that big of a difference. I think that the fight and everybody’s drive to win will make up for the lack in size.”
This ACU team is hungry to not only improve upon last year’s 18-11 record but to advance far into the NCAA Division II national tournament.
“Last year we performed well. We made it to the national tournament, but I don’t think we competed as long or as hard as we would’ve liked to,” said head coach Kellen Mock. “We want to be back at a high national level.”
Mock is entering her second year as head coach of the Wildcats, and she is optimistic this year’s team can be better than last year’s. Last year, ACU fell in the first round of the national tournament to West Texas A&M.
“I feel like we’ve got a ton of potential to be a great team this year,” Mock said. “We could be an amazing team. We could go very far in the playoffs. And I would not hesitate to say my goal is to go to the national tournament.”
Part of what fuels Mock’s optimism is the camaraderie of the Wildcat players. All but two of the players from last year’s squad have returned. The team reported to Abilene at the beginning of August to begin practicing twice a day for this season.
“We have great chemistry,” Mock said. “The heart of our line-up has returned. Plus, I think we have what a lot of teams lack. We have a chemistry that transcends from the court to off the court. Our girls are friends with each other. It’s not just volleyball, but life in general that they’re connected with one another.”
Two players that have been playing together for awhile are the captains, Lowry and senior libero Liz Snoddy. Both played on the 2005 team, which went 31-4, and they said this year’s team is quicker despite being smaller. Although this year’s volleyball
team is strong in different areas from previous years, the team realizes it still has to work hard in order to be successful, Snoddy said.
“We can’t take anything for granted. We can’t take any days off. We have to come out and work hard every day at practice. We have to come out and play every game hard,” Snoddy said. “I think we can definitely get to the national tournament if we set our minds to it.”
After starting the season 0-4, the Wildcats are confident they can reach the national tournament; however, a tough road schedule awaits them. West Texas A&M, ranked No. 14 in the nation, is set to play ACU on the road on Sept. 29. And, Central Oklahoma, who already has a 3-1 record on the season, will face the Wildcats on Oct. 25 in Edmond, Okla.
Another team that is off to a hot 3-1 start is Tarleton State.
“I think the dark horse of our conference is Tarleton State,” Mock said. “They’re the ones that we’re really going to have to watch out for. If they get on a roll, they’re going to be hard to stop.”
Tarleton State has several returning players and a few Division I and II transfer players, but ACU will not have to play them on the road. On Sept. 20, the Wildcats will host the TexAnns in Moody Coliseum, where ACU feels most comfortable.
“We need the fans to come out here and support us as much as possible while we are at home,” Mock said. “Because we need to win those home matches, and then, we’re just going to have to buckle down and do our very best out there on the road.”