After losing both games on their opening weekend, new volleyball head coach Alisa Blair and the Wildcats (2-3) came back strong this weekend winning two out of three at the Missouri Tournament.
Blair and the Wildcats started strong winning their first set 25-22 against Southeastern Conference member Missouri before losing 3-1. Despite the loss the Wildcats bounced back to win 3-1 against Northwestern State and 3-0 against Missouri State. The wins were the first in the Blair era for the Wildcats.
“Definitely a growth mindset is some of the big things that we talk about in each and every game,” Blair said. “Just from when we played in New Mexico to this last weekend, definitely a different team, different people are showing up. People are really stepping up to the plate.”
The Tigers’ six service errors led to a 25-22 set one win for ACU. Despite the strong start, Missouri came back to win the next three sets 25-12, 25-16 and 25-13. ACU hit .139 on offense while Missouri hit .402. Sophomore setter Madeline Guffy had two aces while senior outside hitter Londyn Gray and senior middle blocker Breanna Box each had seven kills.
“Madeline Guffy, she came out and was really aggressive at the service line for us,” Blair said. “I mean, she was killing it at the service line, very much holding the opposite team to passing below a two, which is phenomenal for volleyball.”
ACU bounced back strong 30 minutes after the Missouri match against Northwestern State with 17 kills with three errors on 23 attempts leading to a .609 hitting percentage in the third set. The high-flying offense led to a 3-1 win taking sets one, three and four.
Guffy continued her ace dominance with back-to-back aces to start out against the Lady Demons. Her aces contributed to the Wildcats’ ten which were the second most in a four-set match in ACU Div. I history and tied for the most aces in Div. I match ever.
Freshman outside hitter Ashli Edmiston knocked down 12 kills with a .304 hitting percentage against Northwestern State. On the weekend, Edmiston got 32 kills leading to a spot on the All-Tournament team.
“Our freshman Ashli definitely stepped up the most,” Blair said. “Just having her step up to the plate, I mean, she got 32 kills for the weekend, which is phenomenal for a freshman. So definitely something that, you know, as a freshman, having that mindset of going in and just stepping up to the plate is really nice.”
Blair’s Wildcats continued to roll on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Missouri State. ACU won 25-22, 25-18 and 25-22 to head back to Abilene winning two out of three on the weekend. Blair’s offense hit .275, a season best and it was the Wildcats’ first winning sweep since beating Prairie View A&M on Sept. 22 last season.
Junior middle blocker Braden Bossier was dominant as she matched a career-high eight block assists and was in on eight of the Wildcats’ nine blocks, a season-high. She moved into ninth place for block assists in a career with 133 to this point.
“Braden had a really great career weekend,” Blair said. “She had a ton of blocks. I mean, she was a block per set, but she was also very offensive for us as well.”
Guffy added four more aces to her total of ten on the weekend. Edmiston continued her prominence with a career-high 14 kills on a .407 hitting percentage.
Following the successful weekend, ACU now heads to the Oral Roberts Tournament on Sept. 9-10. The Wildcats face off against three more opponents this weekend: Oral Roberts (2-4), the University of Texas-El Paso (2-4) and Tulsa (2-4).
“Those are three really good competitions for us,” Blair said. “I feel like we’re really evenly matched. If we can go in and play tough, play our game and not worry so much about what’s going on in their side and control the court at a very high level we will have the success we need. I think that success and that confidence going into Tuesday will help us out a lot.”
Blair leads her Wildcat into a doubleheader on Sept. 9 against Oral Roberts at 10 a.m. and UTEP at 4 p.m.