With wins over the 2016 regular-season conference champion in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Incarnate Word on Sunday, volleyball has found its way back into the top-eight of the conference standings.
In eighth place, the Wildcats sit right at the edge of the postseason tournament qualifying, with the top-eight teams earning a postseason berth at the season’s conclusion. Having little wiggle room, head coach Angela Mooney said her team has to narrow its focus.
“Our goal right now is just to take one match at a time,” Mooney said. “We’re at a position where we just have to keep climbing that ladder.”
The Wildcats started the weekend with a strong performance against the Islanders that required five closely-contested sets before ACU came out on top. After dropping the first game 25-23, the Islanders responded with a 25-18 victory to event the score. ACU then took a 2-1 set lead with another 25-23 win, before TAMUCC once again evened the score, outlasting the Wildcats 26-24. But it was the home crowd carrying the team to a 15-11 victory in the final set and the match.
On Saturday night, the Wildcats struggled to find any momentum or rhythm left over from Thursday’s win, dropping the first set to the Cardinals, 25-21. But the team adjusted and found a spark in the second set.
“In between one and two, we just regrouped and said you know what we don’t want to play like this, let’s let this set go, let’s be done with it,” Mooney said. “We wanted to control that next set and that’s exactly what we did.”
In fact, the women converted 14 kills and committed just five errors as the middle blockers began to control the game.
But out of the break the Wildcats were lethargic, spotting UIW a 14-8 lead early in set three. This time it was junior setter Kendall Bosse, who rallied the troops during an ACU timeout.
“Kendall Bosse was actually the one who took control of that timeout and said ‘you guys we’re not doing this, we’re going to take control and we’re going to push them,” Mooney said. “And that’s the first time I think on our bench that we’ve really had that this year.”
From that point on it was all ACU.
The Wildcats outscored the Cardinals 17-6 the rest of the way and shut the door in the fourth set with an astounding .452 hitting percentage and 25-17 win. Bosse, who was moved to setter during last season after starting her career as an outside hitter and middle blocker, proved she was more than comfortable at the position. Aside from rallying the team on the bench, Bosse aided the offensive attack with 43 assists. Mooney said she has put in extra time during and after practice to get to where she needs to be.
“She’s doing a really great job learning. We have a lot of new hitters on our team and a lot of people in good positions than they’ve played in the last year,” Mooney said. “If we can get her going than that’s just another attack for us.”
At 8-13 overall and now 4-5 in Southland Conference, ACU has seven games left, five of which are on the road and five of which are against teams ahead of them in the standings. While this will give the team a great opportunity to continue to climb the ladder, the Wildcats will still have some work left to do if they want to clinch a postseason tournament berth.