The ACU volleyball team went 1-1 in its last two road matches of the season last week on Thursday and Saturday.
The Wildcats faced the formidable West Texas A&M Lady Buffaloes in Canyon on Thursday night. The ‘Cats couldn’t challenge the #12 ranked Lady Buffs and were swept 3-0 (25-11, 25-5, and 25-16).
Head coach Kellen Mock said WTAMU came out of the locker room and immediately went to work on ACU.
“They blocked us early and were able to shut us down from the start,” Mock said. “Balls just weren’t falling for us and we didn’t rise to the occasion that day. WT didn’t help us any either. They had maybe three errors the entire match.”
ACU’s three-match winning streak ended and the team’s overall and Lone Star Conference records went to 16-12 and 10-6. West Texas improved its record to 26-2 and 16-1. The loss was the Wildcats second to WTAMU this season. Both were three-set defeats.
It was senior night in Canyon and the Lady Buffs didn’t disappoint their fans. The team recorded a .429 hitting percentage in addition to three players producing 10 or more kills.
Defensively, WTAMU completely shut down the Wildcats. West Texas had 47 digs and blocked nine shots. ACU was held to an unbelievably low hitting percentage of -.030.
Neely Borger led the Wildcat squad with six of the team’s 21 kills and had three blocks. Freshman Haley Rhoads accumulated 16 assists.
Kelsie Edwards and Madelyn Robinet stood out on defense. They combined for 17 of the team’s 28 digs.
ACU turned its road trip around with a 3-0 win against Eastern New Mexico University on Saturday in Portales, N.M. The scores were 25-20, 25-17, and 25-16.
The ‘Cats bettered their record to 17-12 and 11-6 in the LSC. The team remains in third place in the conference, one game ahead of Tarleton State.
This was the Zias’ seventh straight loss, plummeting their record to 5-22 and 1-17.
Mock was proud that her team responded to the defeat against the Lady Buffs.
“We turned around and played at a high level against Eastern, which isn’t a bad team,” Mock said. “The girls wanted to get back on track and we accomplished that.”
Robinett said the team was able to work on the mistakes they made versus WTAMU during the ENMU match.
“We got to put those faults into practice against Eastern New Mexico,” Robinett said. “I feel like we did a good job of that”
The Wildcats looked much better statistically against Eastern New Mexico. ACU hit .243 as a team. Borger, Jennie Hutt and Sara Oxford all hit above .300 and put up 10 or more kills. Borger led everyone with a .409 hitting percentage to go along with eight blocks and 16 points.
Mock said she has been impressed all season long with the performances of Borger, Hutt and Oxford.
“Those three have been carrying us offensively this year,” Mock said. “At any given time one of them will step up to handle the offensive load of the team.”
Rhoads was credited with 30 assists. Edwards added 19 more digs to her all-time program record.
The ‘Cats lead the entire first set however, ENMU came within one point of the lead at 17-18. Three attack errors on the Zias pushed ACU to a 21-17 margin. Hutt and Oxford ended the set each with one kill after Eastern New Mexico was behind 20-23.
ENMU had a short advantage in the second and third sets, leading 13-11 and 10-9 respectively. But the Wildcats quickly ended those threats with huge scoring runs.
Borger and Robinett provided clutch performances during these runs. Borger scored seven points in the 10-0 second set stretch. Robinett was key in the third. She served two straight aces that gave ACU a 16-13 lead.
The final week of the regular season starts this week. The ‘Cats face Midwestern State University on Thursday in Moody Coliseum at 7 p.m.
Mock said she is preparing the team this week by working on the girls’ ability to display mental toughness, push through drills and find ways to win.
“[These are] things we’ve been working on all year,” Mock said. “We’re not varying the game plan much.”
Robinett stressed the importance of the next three home games.
“We want to move our regional ranking up to No. 8 so that we can go to regionals,” Robinett said. “These next few games are vital for us to reach our goal.”