The Wildcats (3-6) started strong with a 3-1 win against Oral Roberts on Friday but lost the next two in the tournament. In their Moody Coliseum opener against Oklahoma on Tuesday, the Sooners took home a 3-0 sweep.
ACU went 1-2 at the Oral Roberts tournament with a win over ORU and two 3-1 losses to Tulsa and the University of Texas-El Paso. Blair had to turn her team around quickly for their Moody Coliseum opener against Oklahoma on Tuesday night. The Wildcats struggled losing 3-0. Blair said the team was really excited to play at home but were nervous to play in front of their fans after being on the road for the past eight games.
“Definitely really excited to play at home just because traveling as much as we do, it’s nice to not have to get off a bus and show up and play,” Blair said. “I think that’s what made us nervous tonight is that we were actually playing in front of a home crowd and the gym is actually purple. We don’t have a ton of fans at away games so having our fans cheer for us, people we actually know definitely made us more nervous than normal.”
Blair’s Wildcats started the weekend strong behind setter Madeline Guffy, sophomore from Krum. Guffy had six aces, the second-most in a match in the Div. I era and most in a four-set in the Div. I era, against the Golden Eagles to lead ACU to a 3-1 win. Right side outside hitter Jada Birkel, senior from Austin, saw her first double-digit kill game of the year with ten against ORU. In addition to Birkel and Guffy, three different Wildcats hit .357 or better against ORU. Outside hitter Ashli Edmiston, freshman from Wilsonville, continued her dominance with her second double-double of the year.
“Definitely really excited about the ORU game,” Blair said. “I thought we responded well, especially after losing that second set, but very competitive for sure.”
ACU struggled against the University of Texas-El-Paso Miners in a 3-1 loss. The Wildcats won the first set 28-26 but lost the next three. ACU has won the opening set in four of their five losses this season. The Miners kept their foot on the gas to propel themselves to victory.
“The whole weekend was competitive,” Blair said. “We didn’t get the outcomes that we wanted, but at the same time we played competitive teams, we had a lot of growth, especially on the defensive end.”
Saturday was an early morning for the Wildcats as they took on the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes at 10 a.m. ACU once again took the opening set 25-22 but dropped the next three. The second set was close, but Tulsa took the set 25-23. Libero Logan Browning, senior from Wichita Falls, broke her career-high for digs with 27 against Tulsa.
Right side outside hitter Bryley Steinhilber, sophomore from Kennedale, led the way with 11 kills with Edmiston obtaining her sixth double-digit kill matchup of the year with ten.
“Bryley stepped up not only in offense, but even serve receive she upped her game massively there,” Blair said. “Our middles did a really, really good job offensively as well. They stayed really positive and we were able to use them a lot last weekend, which is really great for us.”
Guffy had a double-double as well with 20 assists and 11 digs, she also made the All-ORU Tournament team for three double-doubles in three games and seven aces. Six of her aces came against ORU.
“She just killed it at the service line,” Blair said. “I’m like, she can’t get another one and she would go get another one. Then just running those three games back to back to back, she’s getting double digit digs and assists which is really great.”
Oklahoma swept ACU in their Moody Coliseum opener 3-0. The Sooners took advantage of the ACU defense, hitting at .586 clip in the first set with ACU hitting .111. In the next two sets, ACU hit .025 and .028 compared to OU’s .307 and .340. The crowd was a factor in the home opener with 1,381 Wildcat faithful in Moody.
Middle blocker Braden Bossier, junior from Fairfield, led the way with six kills on 12 attacks and moved into eighth place for career blocks in the Div. I era with 142. Bossier said the crowd in Moody factored into their performance.
“It was a lot of fun playing in a big crowd,” Bossier said. “I don’t think we’ve had that many fans before so it was a really exciting atmosphere. The gym obviously is so nice and a lot of my friends came, so I heard cheering for myself which helped me play better.”
Now the Wildcats head to Fort Worth for the TCU Tournament on Friday and Saturday. ACU faces three more challenging opponents in Texas State (6-3), TCU (3-5) and Louisiana (4-3). Blair said her team has some work to do ahead of the weekend.
“Definitely confidence but also sticking to our game plan,” Blair said. “I thought we let OU control the court a majority of the time but we did have spurts where we were seeing ACU volleyball.”
ACU starts their weekend against Texas State at 4 p.m. on Friday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth.