The Wildcat volleyball team was able to come away with a huge victory last Saturday afternoon, Oct. 15, in Stephenville.
The ‘Cats defeated Tarleton State University 3-1 (14-25, 25-21, 25-20, and 25-22) behind senior Jennie Hutt’s 18 kills and Neely Borger’s .529 hitting percentage.
The TexAnns dropped to 13-11 on the season (7-5) and have lost three in a row. ACU, on the other hand, improved to 13-10 overall and 7-4 in the Lone Star Conference. This is the Wildats’ third straight victory.
The Wildcats also moved up one spot in the LSC standings to third place, a half-game ahead of Tarleton State.
ACU ended the match with a .237 hitting percentage and overcame recording as many errors as kills in the first set. TSU hit .216 but only collected a .189 and .027 hitting percentage in the second and third sets, respectively.
The TexAnns’ mistakes ended all three sets that the Wildcats won. TSU finished with 28 errors, seven of which were service errors.
The Wildcats have now out-blocked their opponents for the ninth straight time including this match, 8.0 – 6.0. Hutt, Borger, Sara Oxford, and freshman Rachel Riley all contributed with three blocks apiece.
Head coach Kellen Mock knows the Wildcats’ wins wouldn’t have come as easily without all the blocks.
“Our block has always been a big part of our game. It puts the other team at a disadvantage, and they get more hesitant on their swing as a result.”
Kelsie Edwards led the team with 15 digs, followed by Haley Rhoads with nine digs and Madelyn Robinett and Michie Johnson with eight.
In the assists category, Rhoads set the pace at 38.
The Wildcats didn’t look or play like themselves in the first set; however, they found their rhythm with a 6-0 lead in the second. ACU lead by six points (14-8) again in the second after an attacking error by TSU’s Flynn Harrell.
Mock said her team started off sluggish but finally found their tempo.
“We started off a little slow on Saturday, but our intensity built from game one to game two, game two to game three, and so on. The team’s block improved in games three and four, which also helped out a bunch. The girls just keep getting better.”
“TSU had an emotional high coming out of the locker room,” said Mock. “They were louder and more aggressive than us. When the girls calmed down, however, it shifted toward our side.”
Tarleton State pulled within three late (23-20), but a kill by Hutt put the Wildcats one point away from 1-1 match tie. ACU would do just that two plays later, following another error on a TSU player.
During the third and fourth sets, the Wildcats made sure to gain and maintain an early lead the entire set. In the fourth, the TexAnns had three consecutive attacking errors. Seven kills by Hutt and three by Riley helped spur the Wildcats on to victory.
Edwards completed a historic milestone earlier this season when she passed Jessica Mayes’ varsity record of 1,578 digs for most digs of all-time in ACU history. Edwards started out the year ranked 11th with 1,238 digs and has averaged 4.66 per set since then.
Other former Wildcats Edwards has passed in this journey include: Mock (4th – 1,510) and two of her teammates, Grae Grimes (3rd – 1,570) and Liz Snoddy (2nd – 1,573).
“It’s really exciting,” said Edwards of her accomplishment. “It’s something I didn’t know much about until I heard people talking about it. I’m just happy to be on the top 10 list with my coach. That’s my only job as libero, so to be able to provide that many digs for my team is exciting.”
ACU’s next game is tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 20, against Texas A&M University-Commerce in Moody Coliseum at 7 p.m.
Mock feels despite Commerce’s record, the Lions can beat anybody on a given night.
“Commerce is a good team. They’re athletic, smart, and they block really well. We shouldn’t expect them to go down without a fight.”