The magic number is one.
After last weekend’s four-set victory over Lamar, the Wildcats control their own destiny needing just one more win to clinch a berth in the Southland Conference Tournament.
Against Lamar, ACU showed complete dominance in the first set. The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-5 lead after an error by Lamar before eventually taking a 25-13 victory on a kill by junior outside hitter Jacey Smith. Smith posted her third-highest kill total of the season with 16.
In a much closer set two, ACU would take a 2-0 lead after another Cardinal error gave way to the 26-24 win. Lamar had 29 errors on the night to ACU’s 19.
The Cardinals rebounded to take set three 25-20, despite the Wildcats posting a .280 hitting percentage. However, the momentum was short-lived as ACU shut the door on a comeback attempt with a 25-22 match-clinching victory.
The lone senior on the team, Corinne Grandcolas, said the atmosphere of her last game in Moody was definitely something she would remember.
“[A win] is probably all I could ask for. I definitely wanted to go out with a bang in Moody,” Grandcolas said. “It’s been a long ride, four years, but it has been so fun, so crazy and I think we played really well against a team that could’ve taken us down if they wanted to.”
At 7-7 in conference and two games left on its schedule, ACU needs just a win against either Incarnate Word Thursday, or a victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday. However, a win in both games would give the Wildcats a chance to jump to as high as sixth in the standings. For that to happen the women would need to win their last two games and both Northwestern State and TAMUCC to lose their final games.
If the standings remained as they are, the Wildcats will take on Stephen F. Austin a weekend from today in the first round of the tournament.
Grandcolas said the team, who has won five of its last seven games, had a reality check midseason that has helped them get to the verge of clinching a tournament spot.
“If we want to compete in post-conference play we have to take it serious from then on,” Grandcolas said. “I think it was just that refocus, the mentality changed completely on the team and I think that’s what really shifted us.”
ACU has already defeated both the teams left on its schedule, but Grandcolas said the women are well aware of what’s at stake.
“I think a big part of it is just not underestimating anybody at this point, because it’s down to the wire,” Grandcolas said. “And whether teams are competing for the championship or not, they know they are coming to their last games and it just becomes so much more intense at this point for every team.”