Reported by: Christopher J. Macaluso, ACU Asst. Director for Athletics Media Relations
ABILENE - The Abilene Christian volleyball program Thursday announced the additions of Nicole Morales and Tucker Smith to its 2014 roster. Morales and Smith are part of an incoming class that also includes fall signees Corinne Grandcolas, Stephanie Schoelman and Taylor Nix.
Smith was born in Lubbock and later raised in Abilene, where she graduated from Wylie High School in 2013. She then played one season as a setter for Hardin-Simmons University, helping the Cowgirls win the American Southwest Conference championship behind an overall record of 23-16.
Hardin-Simmons advanced to the D-III NCAA Tournament but was eliminated in the first round, 3-2, by a Cal Lutheran (35-2) team that finished as the national runner-up. Smith - a second-team all-conference honoree - contributed 23 assists and 12 digs in her lone NCAA postseason match.
Smith appeared in 154 sets as a freshman and worked her way into the starting lineup during the season's final month. She finished with 810 assists (5.26 per set) and 214 digs (1.39) in addition to 15 kills.
Smith recorded a career high 34 assists in a five-set battle vs. Randolph Macon and had 30 in games vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor (five sets) and UT-Dallas (four sets).
"Tucker did great things for both Wylie and Hardin-Simmons and will bring more athleticism and strong work ethic to our team," said second-year assistant coach and former Wildcat setter IJ Moronu. "Tucker always has displayed a great sense of urgency, which will help her run our quick offense effectively. She also will be a great compliment to our junior setter Sarah Siemens, so I'm very excited to see both of them grow and compete with each other."
At Wylie High School, Smith - a two-year starting setter - was part of the Bulldogs' state championship team in 2013 and its' state runner-up team in 2012. She also won a state basketball title in 2012.
Smith's individual awards as a senior in 2013 included being named MVP of the 3A regional and state tournaments and being tabbed as a FCA All-Star.
An honors student at Wylie, Smith intends to major in social work at ACU.
Morales comes to ACU by way of Arlington's Grace Preparatory Academy, which won two district titles with her as its libero in addition to the TAPPS 4A State Championship (36-8).
A two-time all-district honoree, Morales completed her two-year high school career with 129 games played, 624 digs (4.8 per game), 62 aces and 14 kills. She also was an honor roll student at Grace Preparatory and plans to study business while at ACU.
"Nicole is a quick defensive player that will help us against the stronger offensive teams in the (Southland) conference," said Moronu. "She has experience in all back row positions, which makes her the perfect back row utility player. Being from the Metroplex she has ample experience competing at a very high level and should undergo an easy transition into competition against Southland Conference teams."
ACU'S 2014 schedule begins the weekend of Aug. 29-30 at Baylor and also will feature tournaments at Texas State (Spet. 6), North Texas (Sept. 12-13) and Texas Tech (Sept. 19-20). The Wildcats' first home match vs. Texas-Arlington is set for Thursday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.
Southland Conference season begins Thursday, Sept. 25 with a 7 p.m. home match against Central Arkansas.
The full 2014 schedule will be released later this summer once tournament opponents and times are finalized.