The Wildcat volleyball team will sit out during the NCAA playoffs, despite winning at least 25 games for the second year in a row.
The Wildcats finished ninth in the region – even with a 29-6 regular-season record and the title of Lone Star Conference runner-up – one place shy of making the playoffs.
“It makes absolutely zero sense why some of the teams are in there and we are not,” said junior starter Shawna Hines. “They need to change the playoff system.”
The Wildcats have a better record than four of the teams that made the playoffs and beat fifth-seeded Pittsburg State twice during the season.
“It’s unfair that the fifth- through eighth-place teams got into the playoffs with worse overall and region records,” said senior right side hitter Michelle Bacon. “It seems like they didn’t even notice that we won 17-straight games before the LSC championship.”
Bacon said the South Central Regional committee put too much weight on ACU’s loss in the first tournament of the season. The Wildcats lost to Truman State University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha, both of which made the playoffs.
The Wildcats finished the season with a 3-1 loss to West Texas, the No. 6 team in the nation, in the LSC Championship on Sunday. The Wildcats were riding a 17-game winning streak coming into the championship match, and the momentum was enough to carry the Wildcats to a 29-27 victory in the first set.
The Wildcats jumped to an 8-3 lead at the beginning of the second set, but West Texas went on a 22-5 run to close it out. The loss marked the end for the ‘Cats.
In the third and fourth sets, West Texas jumped to early leads and did not relinquish them.
“We played the best set we played all season against WT in that first set,” Bacon said. “They just had too many good kills, and we made too many mistakes.”
As the first seed, West Texas had the luxury of playing the tournament at home. With the crowd behind them, West Texas was able to beat its 61st-consecutive LSC opponent.
“They have a great volleyball fan base,” Hines said. “Once they got the momentum, we couldn’t stop them.”
Playoffs or no playoffs, ACU finished with the second-best record in ACU volleyball history. It was certainly the best season since Head Coach Kellen Mock began coaching in 2006, Bacon said.
“This is the best team I have been a part of,” she said. “Overall, one of the best ACU volleyball seasons yet.”