After a 10-day break and 12-straight games on the road, the Wildcats are home for a four-game home stand. ACU opens the home portion of its schedule, and Southland Conference play when Sam Houston State visits Moody Coliseum.
Junior outside hitter Jacey Smith said it will be refreshing to be back in Moody, a building where the team was 9-0 last season.
“We haven’t even practiced in [Moody] much this year, but it’s fun,” Smith said. “I’m excited to be here, excited to see the crowd that shows up on Saturday, we’re hoping a lot of people will come. It’s nice to be home for a while, being on the road on the time is hard.”
The Wildcats lost the final game of their non-conference schedule against North Texas in straight sets, but still finished with its best mark since 2013 at 4-8. In 2016, the women finished third overall in conference, boasting a 11-5 record, despite going 1-12 during non-conference play. While the four wins don’t carry much weight statistically, junior middle blocker Lauren Walker said the team has a good idea of what they have to do to get more of those wins during conference.
“Not only have our records improved from previous preseasons, but I think we made strides on the court in how we play,” Walker said. “I think we know the things we need to work on, and we’re going to do our best to kill it in conference.”
Prior to the North Texas loss, ACU put together an impressive three-game win streak, due in large part to great defense. As a team, ACU ranks second in total blocks and blocks per set at 2.36. Walker said a good blocking percentage really changes the landscape of the game.
“I think blocking is a huge momentum builder,” Walker said. “If you can shut down a team from hitting, from getting their good kills, they get scared. And so we can play our offense because they are scared to play their offense.”
Smith said defense has been a focus of the team and if it continues to execute the offense is going to come as well.
“We focus a lot on making creates out of our defense and creating our offense out of that,” Smith said. “So it’s just about execution for us.”
Over the last two years, ACU is 20-12 in Southland Conference play, and 2-0 against SHSU, although both matches were hard-fought five set victories. SHSU enters Saturday’s game at 3-9, after a daunting preseason schedule similar to the Wildcats’. Smith said she hopes Saturday, with the football team home again and momentum from last weekend’s exciting festivities, will be a full game day.
“Last weekend was really, really exciting, seeing the student turnout and just the community turnout at the football game,” Smith said. “And I’m really hoping we can just make a full game day out of it.”
The game is set for a noon start time and will be the Southland Conference opener for both teams.