The ACU volleyball team hit their first bump in the road this weekend when they traveled to San Angelo.
The Wildcats competed in the Angelo State Invitational on Friday and Saturday where they played four opponents, losing to three of them.
Head coach Kellen Mock was a little disappointed by her team’s performance.
“We played a lot of teams last weekend that challenged us, at the same time we didn’t do a very good job of being in control and efficient on our side of the court. It wasn’t the best weekend for us, but there are a lot of things we can learn from it to move forward.”
Sophomore setter Caley Johnson agreed, “We struggled this weekend. We didn’t click as a team, and we had too many errors. Those were teams that were excited to beat us because they hadn’t in a while. We have to always be on the attack since opponents are out to get us.”
The first day of the tournament the Wildcats posted a 1-1 record, losing first to St. Edward’s University 3-1 before defeating Texas A&M International University by the same score.
The No. 25 ‘Cats played hard in their first set against St. Edward’s, earning a victory of 25-19. However, the tide quickly shifted and the Hilltoppers took the next three: 25-13, 25-18 and 25-17. Jennie Hutt and Neely Borger combined for 23 kills – Hutt with 13 and Borger with 10 – almost half of the team’s total of 50. This feat was diminished by the fact that ACU had a hitting percentage of only .107 compared to the Hilltoppers’ .224. St. Edward’s also recorded 9.0 blocks.
The Wildcats turned their fortune around in the second game of the day against the Dustdevils. Borger and Johnson both had hitting percentages above .400. Borger had a team-high 13 kills (.524) and Johnson had 41 assists and 12 digs (.429 hitting), while ACU won by margins of 25-17, 19-25, 25-16 and 25-22.
Also adding to the victory were Sara Oxford with eight kills and Kelsie Edwards, who accounted for 21 digs.
But the ‘Cats couldn’t end Â Saturday’s tournament with a winning streak. They lost to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (25-23, 25-19, 26-24) and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (21-25, 25-18, 32-34, 26-24, 15-6).
Similar to the St. Edward’s loss, ACU had a lower hitting percentage than Edinboro (.202 for the Wildcats and .295 for the Fighting Scots), which proved costly as ACU dropped three straight sets. Hutt and Johnson were the main highlights for the Wildcats. Jennie had 11 kills behind Johnson’s 28 assists.
ACU had a 2-1 set advantage in the final game of the Invitational against Permian Basin and was three points away from edging out a win but could not get in the lead. A service error on Hutt and a service ace by Melissa Lusk gave the Lady Falcons a 23-22 lead.
The Wildcats did come back to tie the score at 24-24, but the Lady Falcons scored the last two points of the set and evened the match at two sets apiece.
Permian Basin used that momentum to take over the fifth set. They lead 11-6 before scoring the final four points of the match to seal the deal.
“We have to increase our ability to block the other team,” said Mock when asked about improvements the team needs to make. “Our serve receive is also pretty up and down. Those two aspects are the physical areas we need to spend more time working on in practice. On the good side, we were able to string together some great rallies. I saw a lot of hustle plays on the court. We just aren’t putting together enough good points to win matches.”
“We need to keep working on our defense,” said Johnson. “We did work well as a team unit”
The story of the tournament for ACU was unforced errors. The ‘Cats had 37 attack errors, seven service errors, and five ball-handling errors.
“Errors were the difference in wins and losses,” Caley said. “There were some close games we might have pulled out had we not made those mistakes.”
ACU volleyball’s first SideOut Club social begins Tuesday at Moody Coliseum immediately after the Wildcats’ 7 p.m. match vs. Incarnate Word.
Coach Mock is excited about this event. “The SideOut Club is the launching of our volleyball’s supporters club. We are trying to see if people in the Abilene area, ACU students, parents, and other supporters would like to spend time with us. After SideOut Club matches, we’d like for these people to come eat a meal with us and contribute to the club. It’s a great opportunity to get involved.”