The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred. But science did not take into account the ACU Wildcats volleyball team, which seems to be riding energy and momentum manufactured out of nowhere – and I, for one, am thrilled.
The Wildcats are 10 games into the season, have had only one home game and are starting a freshman on their front line. Every sign points toward another slow start before finally getting things together when conference play arrives. It has happened the last two years, and it has taken the Wildcats’ playoff destiny right out of their hands each time.
It is frustrating for me as the volleyball beat writer to know that the team I write about week after week deserves a shot at the playoffs but doesn’t get the chance. I thought 2010 was going to be our year to break through the wall and go to the playoffs. For one weekend, things looked eerily similar to the past. The Wildcats lost two of their first three games. But then an epic five-set win against Mesa State University turned the team in a different direction.
Last Saturday the Wildcats showed in a span of 20 minutes the difference in this year’s team. Against a 9-1 Tarleton University team, the Wildcats played an almost perfect set, beating down the TexAnns 25-8 in set three to close out a huge win. The combination of Shawna Hines, Jordan Schilling and Jennie Hutt was deadly accurate – and with Ij Moronu’s beautiful assists setting up almost every kill, the ‘Cats demolished one-loss Tarleton.
Thoughts kept popping up as I sat in the stands during that game.
“This is the best I have ever seen us play,” I thought. “We are really good. I cannot believe we just hit that shot.”
I know that time will tell if this team really is different. Powerhouse West Texas University still looms on the horizon, and in a week the Wildcats will play Emporia State University and Truman State University, two top 25 teams.
But if that 20 minutes against Tarleton is any precursor to the rest of the season, the Wildcats will buck the trend, make the playoffs and make this sportswriter proud of the team he writes for.