The Wildcat volleyball team, one of ACU’s most competitive sports programs, is about to start a new season, and it has one goal: get to the playoffs.
“In the past we’ve let other people determine our fate, and we are not going to let that happen again,” said senior setter Ijeoma Moronu. “This year we control our own fate and will win every single game possible so that we are exactly where we want to be at the end of the season.”
While the team has been more than good enough to qualify, an odd game rule has caused the team to miss out on postseason play in the last two years.
The rules state that the top eight teams in the region make the region tournament, but every conference in that region must be represented.Â If a conference has no teams in the top eight, then the eighth team is dropped and the best team from that conference is given the eighth spot by default.
This has been the case in the last two years, and ACU has been the unlucky team dropped from the regional tournament. With a new year and a new team, the Wildcats are ready to overcome some of the obstacles that have plagued them the last two years, including some heartbreaking losses to rival West Texas A&M.
“I’d love to beat West Texas,” said Kellen Mock, head coach of ACU’s volleyball team. “Every time we get a chance to beat them it’s a big deal for us.”
This year the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) picked WT to finish first, with the Wildcats in second. In the last two years, the Lady Buffs beat the ‘Cats in the Lone Star Conference tournament championship. Now ACU is out for revenge.
The Wildcats will return third team AVCA all-American Shawna Hines and preseason Setter of the Year, Moronu. Jordan Schilling and Jennie Hutt, two LSC second-team selections from last year, are also returning. Junior libero Kelsie Edwards will be back after a season where she finished in the top 10 in the LSC in digs.
Returning stars won’t be the only ones seeing court time. A great recruiting offseason by Mock has put freshmen Whitney Stevens and Neely Borger right in the mix to play. Stevens and Borger bring a lot of potential, having both won state championships in high school.
“Even though we do have a lot of returners, there is still a new team dynamic with the new players on the court,” said Moronu. “We just have to figure out how to incorporate those new faces into our old system.”
The Wildcats are set to open up play Sept. 3-5 at the Colorado School of Mines tournament in Golden, Co. ACU will play in front of a home crowd for the first time Sept. 18, against Tarleton State.