The Wildcats (4-13, 1-4) struggled in their first trip to Utah this year with back-to-back sweeps against Southern Utah (3-12, 2-4) on Thursday and Utah Tech (8-7, 2-4) on Saturday.
Not many things went well for new head coach Alisa Blair’s Wildcats during their first Western Athletic Conference road trip. Blair said the Wildcats struggled to execute their game plan as both WAC foes took advantage of ACU’s miscues.
“It definitely was a struggle,” Blair said. “On our side of things, both Southern Utah and Utah Tech did a really, really good job of executing their game plan. Southern Utah played a phenomenal game against us, and so did Utah Tech. I thought our girls had some times where they did really good things. We need to piece together to get the results that we want.”
Southern Utah had ACU’s number on Thursday winning 25-16, 25-17 and 25-21 to take home the sweep. The Thunderbirds struck the Wildcats quickly as they held the Wildcats to a .089 hitting percentage. ACU’s defense was not much better as they turned out a season-low 29 digs. Outside hitter Ashli Edmiston, freshman from Wilsonville, Ore., aced the Thunderbirds three times, bringing her total to 26 which is good enough for fifth all-time for aces in a year. Outside hitter Londyn Gray, senior from Weatherford, stood out with seven kills on a .278 hitting percentage.
“In our first game, Londyn had a phenomenal game,” Blair said. “Our right sides are really dominating right now, and I thought they did a really good job in both games of making sure that they were available and they were. Londyn did her job.”
Utah Tech continued to spoil ACU’s Utah weekend with 25-20, 25-19 and 25-19 set wins to take the sweep. The Trailblazers blazed the ACU defense for a .310 hitting percentage to ACU’s .222. Libero Sara Carrizales, freshman from Arlington, was one of the lone bright spots for ACU as she racked up 20 digs for her second 20-plus dig night of the year. Outside hitter Jada Birkel, senior from Austin, was efficient as she hit .364 for 11 kills for her sixth double-digit kill night of the year.
“In the second game, Jada did her job and she hit over .500,” Blair said. “Whenever you have right sides that hit above 500, you just get pretty excited.”
Following the disappointing road weekend, ACU heads to Riverside, California to face California Baptist on Thursday and make the quick trip back to Abilene to face Grand Canyon on Saturday. Out of 13, ACU currently stands at 12th in the WAC with CBU at 8th and GCU at 5th.
“I thought we did a good job with planning this one because we have a football game, which is great, but that helped push our game further back,” Blair said. “Travel always stinks, but at the same time, we get to sleep in our own bed. Any time you get to sleep in your own bed and actually have that before a game is phenomenal because your body just resets. It’s not easy, but that’s just the way this conference is.”
ACU’s away and home weekend begins at 9 p.m. on Thursday against California Baptist at Van Dyne Gym and against Grand Canyon at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Moody Coliseum.