After an upset loss to Nicholls State abruptly ended a two-game winning streak, volleyball clinched their first road win of the season with a 3-1 victory over Incarnate Word.
Early on in the fourth set UIW held an 8-4 lead and looked poised to force a game five but, the Wildcats took advantage of a five Cardinal’s errors. Senior Jennie Loerch also converted one of her game-high fourteen kills to spark a 6-0 run and create 10-8 advantage.
ACU would slowly run away with the game, building a lead as big as seven after a kill from freshman Kendall Bosse pushed the score to 24-17. The Wildcats took the set and the match on the next point when UIW recorded their 32nd error of the match. ACU enjoyed a plus-10 margin in errors, which is the highest margin recorded on the road this season.
“We served really aggressively the entire match which kept them out of [their] system and they weren’t able to set their two middles,” head coach Jason Bibler said. “Both their middles are very talented and forcing their setters to set from all around the court really limited their offense.”
This was the first time in 17 tries on the road this season the Wildcats were able to take sets one and two, winning by scores of 25-22 and 25-19. Freshman Jacey Smith clinched both games with two of her nine kills on assists from senior setter Sarah Siemens.
The Wildcats faltered slightly in game three and the Cardinals took advantage with a 25-21 win. ACU trailed 22-18 before Coach Bibler called his second timeout over a span of three points.
Out of the timeout UIW pushed the lead to five at 23-18, but Loerch rallied with two kills over the next three points to cut the lead to two. Unfortunately Incarnate Word recovered quickly, scoring the next two points to force a fourth game.
Despite a .154 hitting percentage for the match ACU was able to take advantage of 32 UIW errors and remain fifth in Southland Conference standings at 7-5. The Wildcats were picked to finish 12th out of 13 teams at the beginning of the season.
“I thought our defense really stepped up to the challenge in both the front and back court, we really pushed thier hitters to adjust and it forced them to make all the errors they made,” Bibler said.
With their seventh win of the season the Wildcats have exceeded their season win total from each of the last two years.
“Even though offensively we didn’t have a great match overall, we did a lot of the little things correctly, stayed disciplined, scored when we needed to and did what was necessary to get the win,” Bibler said.
ACU continues their season-ending road trip when they travel to Louisiana to take on a sixth place McNeese State team. The Wildcats are 1-1 all-time against the Cowgirls.