Western Athletic Conference matchups continue for new head coach Alisa Blair and the Wildcats (5-14, 2-5) at the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks(12-7, 4-3) on Thursday and back home versus the Tarleton State Texans (11-12, 3-5) on Saturday.
Last week the Wildcats lost 3-1 at California Baptist on Thursday before winning a 3-2 thriller at home over Grand Canyon on Saturday. Blair’s Wildcats currently stand 12th out of 13 and look to flip the script heading into the final seven matchups of the season.
“New team, new day, everything’s new,” Blair said. “We just have to take everything one day at a time and make sure that we are progressing forward. In the locker room, we talked about what causes tension and understanding. If we alleviate those little tension spots, then we can be the best team that we know we are capable of being.”
The UT-Arlington Mavericks are fifth in the WAC, 7-3 in their last ten and 12-7 on the year. Outside hitter Brianna Ford, sophomore from Amarillo, is fifth in kills per set in the WAC with 3.28 per set and second in points per set with 4.01. Setter Sophie Skinner, freshman from Hot Springs, Arkansas, is fifth in assists per set in the WAC with 7.72. As a team in the WAC, the Mavericks rank fourth in hitting percentage, third in opponent hitting percentage, first in blocks per set and fourth in service aces per set.
The Tarleton State Texans are 11th in WAC, 3-7 in their last 10 and 11-12 on the year. Middle blocker Ailie Hair, freshman from Liberty Hill, is 1st in WAC in hitting percentage at .382. Outside hitter Grayson Schirpik, junior from Leander, is 4th in service aces per set with .39. As a team in the WAC, the Texans rank fifth in hitting percentage and fifth in service aces per set.
Outside hitter Bryley Steinhilber, sophomore from Kennedale, went on a tear last weekend with 17 kills and a career-high 21 digs against GCU and 18 kills on a .361 hitting percentage against CBU. The Wildcats are in the thick of their WAC schedule and need to use their momentum from Saturday to move higher in the conference standings. Steinhilber’s recent dominance is what the Wildcats need more of to top UTA and TSU this week.
“I think at this point, it’s all mental,” Steinhilber said. “We know what we can do and we’ve seen physically what we can do on the court. We’ve just been talking a lot about just staying strong in the mental game and just knowing that we can play and be any team in the room. So mentally, we just have to stay strong.”
The Wildcats begin their week at the UTA Mavericks at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the College Park Center. On Saturday, the Wildcats take on the TSU Texans at 1 p.m. in Moody and will be streamed live on ESPN+.