Momentum is what new head coach Alisa Blair and the Wildcats look to continue in the Oral Roberts Tournament this weekend and in their home opener against Oklahoma on Tuesday.
Blair led the Wildcats to a highly successful Missouri Tournament last weekend. The Wildcats took two out of three with wins against Northwestern State and Missouri State but a 3-1 loss to Missouri.
“Definitely a growth mindset is some of the big things that we talk about in each and every game,” Blair said after the weekend. “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.”
ACU now heads into the Oral Roberts Tournament facing Oral Roberts and the University of Texas-El Paso on Friday and Tulsa on Saturday. Blair said she’s looking forward to the competition this weekend.
“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.”
The Golden Eagles are currently 2-4 and lost all three in the Redbird Classic at Illinois State last weekend. ORU started off poorly with a 3-1 loss to the Redbirds. The losing streak continued with a 3-2 loss to Southeastern Missouri and a 3-0 loss to Green Bay. ACU is 1-2 overall against ORU with the latest matchup coming in a 3-2 Wildcats win on Sept. 8, 2018.
The Miners come into the weekend with a 2-4 record following three losses at their own Borderland Invitational last weekend. UTEP lost 3-2 in each matchup to New Mexico, Portland State and South Dakota. ACU is 1-1 against UTEP with a 3-2 win against the Miners on Sept. 10, 2017.
The Golden Hurricanes continue the trend with a 2-4 record as well and lost two out of three at the Stephen F. Austin Invitational last weekend. Tulsa was able to fly by South Alabama with a 3-0 win before losing to McNeese 3-2 and Blair’s former school in SFA 3-0. Tulsa came out victorious in the lone matchup against ACU with a 3-2 win on Sept. 7, 2018.
“Especially when you get to play non-conference, a lot of the teams that we are playing are playing other schools within our conference,” Blair said. “So it’s just showing that we are playing at a high enough level, we are playing tough enough teams to get us ready for the WAC and we are competing the exact same way that they will be competing.”
Following this weekend, the Wildcats face a Power Five opponent in their home opener against the Oklahoma Sooners on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The Sooners are 4-2 with a sweep at their opening weekend OU Invitational over Gonzaga, Iowa and Florida International. However the Sooners lost two out of three at the Lipscomb Tournament with a 3-1 loss to Ball State and a 3-2 loss to Mississippi State. Oklahoma bounced back with a 3-1 win over Lipscomb. Blair said it’s super exciting for Moody to be open again and when she was a player at Angelo State, she played at Moody.
“I think it’s really exciting not only for our freshmen to see it, but even our seniors that got to play in it for one season,” Blair said. “It’s that complete circle actually seeing a complete project. There’s a lot of players on our team that never even played in Moody. So just being able to battle in this actual coliseum for the first time, I think they’re really excited to protect their home court.”
Madeline Guffy, sophomore setter from Krum, Ashli Edmiston, freshman outside hitter from Wilsonville, Ore. and Braden Bossier, junior middle blocker from Fairfield all had a great Missouri Tournament. Blair will need to look for more aces from Guffy, more kills from Edmiston and more blocks from Bossier and other Wildcats to step up this weekend.
Blair leads her Wildcats into the Oral Roberts Tournament beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Tulsa, Okla.