The Wildcats finished the 2016 campaign with plenty of momentum at 11-5 in the Southland Conference. This season all but one of the Wildcats starters is back for first-year head coach Angela Mooney.
Mooney said this is the biggest team she has ever coached at a roster size of 18, but it will keep the position battles competitive and bodies fresh. The 2017 season will also be the first time volleyball will be eligible for the Southland Conference Tournament which they would have qualified for last season.
“Well ultimately we want to take it one day at a time, we want to get better each day, each match is that one thing that we’re focusing on,” Mooney said. “And that’s kind of how we’re going to take it for the entire year, and we feel like if we take care of each day and each match, then we’re going to have the end result that we want.”
Similar to the last several seasons, the team will not play at home until its conference opener against Sam Houston State, September 23. But the preseason traveling should only continue to improve the hard work senior middle blocker Corinne Grandcolas said the team has been putting in all summer.
“We’ve had a really good summer. We’ve gotten in really early this year, so we’ve spent a lot of time together just bonding as a team. Doing a lot of work in the weight room, just a lot of team activities. We’ve focused a lot on mental toughness and just getting in the gym and working as hard as we can. So right now we’re looking really solid.” Grandcolas said.
When the Wildcats return to Moody Coliseum September 23 they will be welcomed by two high-definition video screens purchased from Northwestern University.
The team was tabbed to finish sixth in the Southland preseason poll, and junior outside hitter Jacey Smith was selected to the All-Southland Conference preseason team. Smith led the team last year with 324 kills and finished seventh in the conference with 2.89 kills per set.
“It’s definitely a different feel this year, just from everything. I mean ever since we came in we’ve been looking forward to this year and thinking ‘2017, 2017’,” Smith said. “And so this is kind of it. And it’s different with a new staff, but I think it’s really cool that they have the opportunity to come in here and win their first time, and that’s obviously been our goal.”
ACU begins its first season as a fully eligible member of the Southland Conference August 25 in Wyoming against Portland, Wyoming and South Dakota.