ACU volleyball closed out their impressive five-game home stand with a 3-2 victory over a Sam Houston State team, who is now tied with the Wildcats for fourth place in the Southland Conference.
The match began very one-sided, as Sam Houston State cruised to a 25-13 win, in a game where the Wildcats committed seven errors. However, in game two the Wildcats quickly got back on track, as they took advantage of 13 Bearkat errors en route to a 25-20 win.
“In game one we didn’t play like ourselves at all,” assistant coach Ijeoma Moronu said. “We needed to play aggressive and play as a team confidently.”
With games one and two in the books, ACU dug in and prepared for a best-of-three series that will not soon be forgotten. Over the next three sets the Wildcats fought through 33 ties and 11 lead changes to secure the victory.
In game three SHSU jumped out to an early 8-5 lead before ACU used three Bearkat errors to capture the lead at 9-8. The set continued like this for the rest of the way until Sam Houston State was able to rattle off two straight kills to capture the set 27-25 and the lead 2-1.
The fourth set proved to be the most tightly contested set of the match, as no team held a lead larger than three points. Despite falling behind 23-21, the Wildcats used two kills from senior Jennie Loerch and separate kills from freshmen Kendall Bosse and Jacey Smith to finish the set 28-26.
“The best part about our team is that we trust each other to do our job,” Moronu said. “We didn’t do a good job of that the first game, but the rest of the match we trusted each other and knew that we would all push hard no matter what the score was.”
With the match tied 2-2, ACU stared a fifth set in the face for the third time this season. Previously 0-2 in five-set matches, after falling to North Texas and Stephen F. Austin earlier in the year, the Wildcats prepared to break the winless streak.
After the Bearkats took a 2-0 lead to start the fifth set ACU battled back to tie the game at 4-4, following a kill by senior Sarah Siemens and another Sam Houston State error. The Wildcats battled point-for-point and with the set tied at 11-11, head coach Jason Bibler called a timeout.
Out of the timeout SHSU committed three consecutive errors and Loerch capped off the rally with her 17th kill to give the Wildcats the set 15-11 and the match 3-2.
“This team is different than any team I’ve played on in my past years at ACU and I’m so proud that we have fought so hard in conference and have some wins to show all of that hard work,” senior libero Madison Hoover said.
Although the Wildcats are 4-15 overall, they are in the midst of a three-game win streak and finished their five-game home stand 4-1. ACU hits the road again when they travel to Houston Baptist on Thursday and to Southland Conference leading Texas A&M Corpus Christi Saturday.
“I’m so proud of how hard my team has played and fought these past five games,” Hoover said. “I hate that we have to leave home and play in other gyms besides Moody but I can feel more wins in the future so I’m super excited to head to Corpus and Houston to play two really good teams.”