New wildcats stepped up during the first volleyball games of the season. The newcomers made an immediate impact on the team’s performance last weekend on the road.
The ‘Cats begin the 2012 season with a 2-2 record. The team won against Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University and lost to St. Edward’s University and Colorado State University-Pueblo in the St. Edward’s / St. Mary’s Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Freshman setter Sarah Siemens had 40 assists, three kills, seven digs and two block assists against Southwestern Oklahoma State.
Middle blocker Corrie Reeder and Loerch combined for 16 kills against Southeastern. Libero Madison Hoover posted 21 digs in the Colorado State-Pueblo match.
“Madison and Jennie have been clutch players for us,” head coach Kellen Mock said. “You can tell they have a real understanding of the game. Sarah and Corrie really started to connect towards the end of the weekend and Corrie came a long way in her block.”
“We lost some good players from last year,” sophomore outside hitter Rachel Riley said. “We needed some freshman to step up.”
Riley had a good two days herself. She smashed 10 kills in the contest against the Bulldogs and recorded 18 kills along with a .607 hitting percentage versus Southeastern.
“When the team started to jive more, I got excited and started rolling,” Riley said.
For the season opener, the team faced St. Edward’s in Austin and lost, 3-1 (25-13, 25-13, 24-26, 25-17). ACU turned things around in their second game by shutting out former Lone Star Conference foe Southwestern, 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-21).
The team traveled to San Antonio for the second day of the tournament. Where they played the ThunderWolves and were defeated, 3-2 (21-25, 25-22, 25-15, 20-25, 15-10). The ‘Cats closed out the weekend by shutting down another Oklahoma team, Southeastern Oklahoma, 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-22).
Pregame jitters got the best of the Wildcats when they met St. Edward’s. The match stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the other three contests.
The Wildcats, as a team, had only a .096 hitting percentage and committed 29 errors. Sophomore Sara Oxford led the ‘Cats with 17 kills but she also had 11 attack errors. Freshman outside hitter Jennie Loerch recorded eight kills in the match and had 10 errors.
Mock and Riley said the team might have been overanxious against the Hilltoppers.
“We had a hard time servicing, passing and getting the ball to go over the net,” Mock said. “It was not indicative of who we are as a team. But we did have four freshman girls playing in their first college match. For anybody the first game of the season is somewhat nerve racking.”
“We weren’t connecting like we should have,” Riley said. “We all knew it was bad and it spiraled downward from there.”
Despite the minor hiccup, Mock and Riley were happy with the overall results of the tournament.
“Every game we played this weekend, we got better as a team,” Mock said. “Pueblo and St. Edward’s did challenge us which was good.”
“As we played we learned from our mistakes,” Riley said. “We learned how to put the team together so that we could defeat our opponents. When we came together at the end, it was a lot of fun.”
ACU will get back on the road this weekend when they travel to Denver, Colo. for the Colorado Premier Challenge. Their opponents will include No. 2 University of Tampa and No. 25 Colorado School of Mines.