After dropping the first set, 25-23, the Wildcats bounced back to capture the next three games from Incarnate Word to move to 2-2 in the Southland Conference.
ACU took a late lead in the first set, 22-16, after senior Jennie Loerch‘s third kill, but Incarnate Word rattled off six straight points and nine of the next 10 to secure the win.
Despite a strong start from Incarnate Word in game two, the Wildcats used strings of three straight points to bounce back and clinch the win, 25-18, thanks to back-to-back attack errors by UIW.
With the match tied, 1-1, the turning point came in the third set when head coach Jason Bibler called a timeout with Incarnate Word leading, 27-26.
“I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know that I told them that they didn’t need me to call a timeout to get refocused and push to win three points in a row; they are good enough that they can do that on their own,” Bibler said.
After the timeout, the Wildcats scored three straight points behind freshman Jacey Smith‘s two service aces to propel ACU to a 29-27 win. Smith’s service aces were two of a season-high 11 the Wildcats recorded against UIW.
In game four, ACU fought its way to another close game win, 28-26, thanks to another service ace by senior Madison Hoover. The game was again characterized by run-after-run and with UIW leading, 21-20.
Four points later, the Wildcats held a 24-22 with match point looming. However, after a timeout by UIW, the Cardinals stormed back to take a 25-24 looking to force a fifth set. ACU would not go away as they scored four out of the five next points to clinch the match.
“We are going to keep fighting no matter what situation we are in or adversity we have to face,” Bibler said. “We are going to keep playing our way and keep improving as individuals and as a team.”
Senior Sarah Siemens contributed another double-double with 41 assists and 11 digs, while Hoover led the 11 ace performance with four aces and 15 digs.
This is the first time since moving to Div. 1 ACU has boasted a conference record of .500 or better. The Wildcats will attempt to continue their success at home when they welcome Lamar as part of a five-match homestand.