By Michael Freeman, Assistant Sports Editor
The ACU volleyball team’s season came to a close Monday when the Wildcats were not selected to play in the NCAA Division II Southwest Region Tournament.
ACU finished the season with a 15-14 overall record and a semifinal appearance in the Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament, but it wasn’t enough to earn the Wildcats a fourth-straight trip to the regional tournament.
“We honestly felt like we had a good chance at going,” said head coach Kellen Mock. “There are a lot of factors that go into deciding who gets to go. When it comes down to it, I think we should’ve been on that list.”
Representing the Lone Star Conference in the regional tournament will be Central Oklahoma, Midwestern State and the team the Wildcats lost to in the LSC tournament – West Texas A&M. On its streak toward its 13th league title, West Texas A&M downed ACU by the score of 30-25, 30-27, 30-25 Friday in Canyon. Each game was a back-and-forth battle, but the Lady Buffs came out triumphantly in three games.
“The scores, and the fact that they swept us in three, doesn’t show how tight of a match it really was,” Mock said. “We were within four points of each other the entire match. As a team, I think it was one of our best matches of the year.”
Senior outside hitter Abbie Lowry led the way for the Wildcats with 16 kills and eight digs. Sophomore middle blocker Michelle Bacon finished with 10 kills, and sophomore libero Amy Wilson ended the game with a team-high 19 digs. Freshman setter Ijeoma Moronu, who was the LSC co-Setter of the Week for two weeks in a row prior to the tournament, finished with a team-high 36 assists. But the Wildcats’ efforts were not enough to stop the Lady Buffs, who finished the tournament by beating Central Oklahoma 30-16, 30-26, 30-22 to take home the LSC crown.
“They’ve got a good group,” Mock said. “And we’ve got a good group. It’s going to be a battle for the next three years as our sophomores fight against their sophomores, and our freshmen fight against their freshman.”
To make it to Friday’s game, the Wildcats first fought and defeated the Texas Woman’s Pioneers 30-21, 26-30, 30-26, 30-13 on Thursday’s quarterfinal match. Except for
the second game, ACU dominated the match as middle blockers Lauren Leone and Bacon each ended with 13 kills. Lowry finished the match with 12 kills, and Moronu served up a match-high 43 assists and seven kills. Freshman middle blocker Shawna Hines blocked 5.5 shots, while sophomore libero Amy Wilson finished with a team-high 17 digs.
“I was really proud of the way the girls played at the conference tournament,” Mock said. “We took care of business against Texas Woman’s.”
For their performance during the tournament, Bacon and Lowry were named to the LSC All-Tournament Team. Now the Wildcats can begin preparing for next year where they
will be without seniors Lowry and libero Liz Snoddy.
“I think they’ll do really well,” Lowry said. “I know coach Mock has been talking to the new girls that are going to be coming in, and they seem like they’re pretty good.”
For the time being, the Wildcats can take pride in the 2007 season as ACU finished with a 15-14 overall record and an 8- 4 conference record. Also, ACU finished fourth in the LSC in
kills with 1,548. In her final season, Lowry added 446 kills to her career stats, which gave her 1,513 for her career, the fifth most in ACU history. And in her final season, Snoddy added 331 digs, giving her 1,574 for her career, the second most career digs by a Wildcat.
“Abbie and Liz are very dear to my heart,” Mock said. “They are tremendous athletes and great volleyball players, but I think they mean so much more to the heart and soul of this team. They are going to be sorely missed.”
The Wildcats were also third in the conference in blocks, led by Hines who accounted for 120 of ACU’s 232.5 for the season. Moronu ended her first season with 1,146 assists, a statistic that counts as the ninth best single-season performance in ACU history.
“I think this season has been a tremendous success,” Mock said. “We’ve learned a lot. We had a good time and played well.”