Volleyball began the new era of full Div. 1 postseason eligibility with an early season-defining win over Wyoming. The Wildcats battled to a four-set victory over the top-100 RPI team.
Sophomore libero Amanda Chapa, who led the team with 45 digs over the weekend, said the team’s mindset heading into the game against Wyoming was the key.
“Coming out we knew, we vocalized in the locker room, we were going to be the underdogs,” Chapa said. “So I think that even just saying it, brought more motivation to us. And you know what we didn’t care if we were the underdogs.”
After surprising the Cowgirls with a 25-23 victory in the first set and leading 20-11 late in second game, the Wildcats surrendered a late lead, allowing Wyoming to clinch a 29-27 game two victory. But ACU regrouped behind the trio of juniors Lauren Walker and Jacey Smith and freshman Kate Mueller to take games three and four, 25-21 and 25-23. Each of the three recorded 12 kills in the match.
“Everybody was expecting us to not come out with a win that game, but that just really put some fire under us,” Chapa said. “And we just went out there and played our game, really just had confident in ourselves and each other. Even when we were down we looked each other in the eyes, and just knew we were going to come out on top if we kept instilling in each other and bringing confidence to the court.”
Overall, the Wildcats finished the weekend 1-2, but the highlight win over Wyoming was also head coach Angela Mooney’s first win as a Wildcat. Mooney said it gives the team lots to build on moving forward.
“I think the girls came out, and we were prepared for this past weekend. We really obviously got the results that we wanted when we played Wyoming,” Mooney said. We were in our systems, we were staying focused and intent with all that we did and we got the results that we wanted. And I think that they can gain confidence from beating a top-100 RPI team moving into this weekend, because that’s exactly what were playing this weekend.”
The preseason schedule gives the Wildcats little rest, as the team heads back to Rocky Mountains. This time to Boulder, Colorado to take on Wake Forest, Rice and Colorado.
The team then returns to West Texas on Monday to take on Texas Tech. Mooney said each of these teams are ranked in the top-150 in RPI.
“We have four tough matches, we start with Wake Forest on Friday, we play Rice on Saturday, Colorado on Sunday and then we’re back here in West Texas against Texas Tech on Monday,” Mooney said. “And so all these teams are top-100, 150 RPI teams, and I think this past weekend just prepared us for that. Got a little bit of the jitters out. I think our first match on Friday is just going to be a little bit more solid than the last one we played.”
ACU has already matched its preseason win total from last season when it defeated UT-Arlington in a five-set thriller in Moody. But that wasn’t until the eighth game of the season.