The ACU volleyball team finished up the regular season at home with two wins against Midwestern State University and Cameron University.
The Wildcats swept MSU 3-0 (30-28, 25-22, and 25-18) on Thursday night. The ‘Cats celebrated Senior Night at the game and Kelsie Edwards, Jennie Hutt and Aubree Vick, all seniors, appropriately played a major role during the match.
ACU was swept last month at Wichita Falls, but this time the Wildcats were able to stage a much better performance.
“It was one of our more dominating performances of the season,” said head coach Kellen Mock. “All three seniors had a great night.”
The ‘Cats season and Lone Star Conference record rose to 19-12 and 13-6 after the win. The Mustangs suffered their fifth straight loss dropping to 15-14 and 7-12.
ACU hit .238 for the match. Hutt once again led the team in kills (18) and Sara Oxford smacked 11. Vick came back from her first match since Sept. 10 due to injury and put up a double-double of 10 kills (.241) and 10 digs.
The Wildcats began game one in two separate holes of 6-0 and 9-2. Numerous errors along with three Mustang blocks contributed to the huge gaps. ACU had been in similar situations many times before during this season, so the team didn’t become alarmed.
The ‘Cats strung together four straight points to pull within three, then tied the game at 15-15 after scoring on seven of nine rallies.
Hutt whacked five consecutive kills in the first game, each critical to ACU’s success.
Once back in the game, the Wildcats struggled to finish it. The team had several opportunities at set point but couldn’t come through. At 27-26 with the Mustangs serving, Vick recorded a kill to tie the game. Midwestern’s Kiara Jordan fumbled the ball next possession on an attempted assist to help the ‘Cats.
A kill from Oxford followed by another from Hutt finally ended the marathon set. Freshman setter Haley Rhoads set up both points and finished with 43 assists on the day.
“The girls battling back in game one, showed a lot of heart and guts,” Mock said. “They had to push hard to get the win. This team will sometimes become determined not to let the opponent score the final point. When you see that fire in their eyes, it can make for a long match.”
Edwards was the leader of the ACU defense with 16 digs. MSU was held to a .172 hitting percentage.
On Saturday the Wildcats dominated Cameron 3-0 (25-20, 25-16 and 27-25) in front of the home crowd.
Oxford had a career day with a .550 hitting percentage and 14 kills. Hutt recorded 17 kills.
Saturday night’s match was also emotional. The team not only recognized the event as the last home match for Hutt, Edwards and Vick, but took the opportunity to remember those affected by Friday’s bus crash. All 14 Wildcats stood with their parents during pregame introductions and lowered their heads as they acknowledged the wreck claimed the life of sophomore Anabel Reid.
“There was definitely a mix of emotions,” Edwards said. “It was real to us because we’ve traveled on that bus many times this year. I felt as though we played for a higher purpose.”
The team also wore black hair ribbons and armbands with the date 11/4/11 on them. The ‘Cats played with inspiration in jumping to an early 6-0 lead. ACU built a gap of 23-14 in the first set, but Cameron scored six of the next seven points narrowing the set to 24-20.
Kalynne Allen put an end to the Aggies’ hopes with a game-winning kill off an assist by Rhoads.
Rhoads had 43 of the team’s 48 assists and the Wildcats averaged 17.0 kills per set.
Neely Borger and Hutt hit over .400 for the match.
ACU will participate in the LSC Championship on Thursday at noon in Canyon.
Mock said she feels the way the team ended the regular season helps them going into the conference tournament.
“To get three wins at the end of the season at home is a boost to our confidence going into the final week of conference play.”
Edwards said she is glad the team could finish the season on such a strong note.
“Our team has progressed a lot this season, and we’re peaking at the perfect time” Edwards said. “Beating these teams in three sets after losing to them earlier in the year shows we’re ready to compete in the conference tournament.”