The ACU volleyball team went .500 both days of the Washburn Regional Crossover Tournament in Topeka, KS on Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1.
Head Coach Kellen Mock was happy with the play of her team this past weekend.
“The team played well this weekend. We did a wonderful job of overcoming our mental toughness problems we’ve had in the past. They played at a level I hadn’t seen yet this year.”
Senior Kelsie Edwards said the team played well as a unit.
“We had a good weekend. It felt like we clicked for the first time. We stepped our game up and the maturity we’ve gained from playing each week showed.”
Friday, the Wildcats began the tournament with a four set win against the University of Nebraska at Omaha (25-13, 25-20, 23-25, 25-13).
The ‘Cats had 13 blocks, limiting the Mavericks to an .057 hitting percentage. Omaha recorded a multitude of errors (30 attack errors, nine receiving errors).
Senior Jennie Hutt led the Wildcats with 19 kills and 14 digs. Freshman Sara Oxford had 12 kills, two blocks, and hit .391. Sophomore Neely Borger had 11 kills, three blocks, and four service aces, a team high.
Mock told her team before the match against Omaha that they must control the intensity on their side of the court.
“We dictated our own intensity level versus Nebraska-Omaha. The girls also continued this trend throughout the rest of the tournament.”
ACU followed up the win with a three set loss to No. 5 Washburn University (25-17, 25-13, 25-18). Washburn had only one defeat entering the tournament.
The Wildcats could only muster a .019 hitting percentage as a team and had 19 errors. Hutt led the team in kills again with eight. The Ichabods hit .214.
On Saturday the ‘Cats shook up the top 25 rankings when it beat No. 25 Emporia State University in comeback fashion.
ACU was destroyed the first set 25-8, but pulled itself together to win the second 25-19. The third set was a nail bitter won by ESU 25-23 and the final two frames were taken by the Wildcats, 25-18 and 15-10.
Mock said ACU almost forgot how to play the game of volleyball in the first set.
“We pretty much had a complete breakdown of our ability to play volleyball in the 25-8 loss. The girls started over however, and played to their abilities in the rest of the match.”
“Emporia State was fun to watch. The ‘Cats started to play easy volleyball. Everything came together after the first set. The girls were always in the right place at the right time and everyone did their job.”
The upset win over Emporia gave Edwards a feeling of excitement.
“It was a huge accomplishment. The younger girls hadn’t experienced a win versus a ranked team before, so I was happy for them.”
In the final set of the match the ‘Cats hit .500. The team jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never lost it. The Wildcats scored four of the last five points and Oxford finished with 16 kills, one less than Hutt’s match high of 17.
ACU began to pull away from Emporia State in the fourth set following an 11-11 tie. The team won eight of the next nine points to lead, 19-12. The Hornets added to its woes by posting seven errors in this set and a .133 hitting percentage.
On the other hand, the ‘Cats hit .261 in the fourth and five players contributed with 3 or more kills.
The Wildcats ended the match with a .230 hitting percentage and like the fourth set, received contributions from numerous players. Four teammates had 10 or more kills including Kalynne Allen and Borger with 12 and 10 kills, respectively.
Setter Haley Rhoads recorded 60 assists along with 16 digs.
ACU ended the Washburn tournament on a low note, getting defeated by Truman State University 25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 25-18.
Hutt was a team leader for the ‘Cats with 19 kills and hit .372. Allen, Oxford, and Borger were not far behind with double-digit kills also.
In the Wildcats’ second set victory, the team had to fight back from three six-point deficits. ACU didn’t contain the lead until it was 20-19. A couple of errors from Truman State and a kill by Oxford ended the second.
ACU returns to play in the Lone Star Conference on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. The Wildcats face Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.