ARLINGTON, Texas - Abilene Christian volleyball suffered a bitter 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Texas-Arlington Mavericks Friday night at the College Park Center for the start of the Hilton UTA Invitational.
In their historic debut as NCAA D-I members of the Southland Conference, the Wildcats (0-1) recorded more kills, assists, digs and blocks than the Mavs, but couldn't keep their offense rolling after taking a 2-1 lead as the home team rallied to win the final two sets by scores of 25-16 and 15-10.
UTA (1-0) also won the first set 25-20 before dropping sets two and three, 25-15 and 25-17. The Wildcats hit a game-high .212 in the third set, but registered more errors than kills in the final two stanzas.
ACU led 6-4 in the fourth set only to see the Mavs respond with a back-breaking 11-1 run that included five Wildcat miscues. The fifth set followed a similar pattern as an early 5-4 ACU lead was eclipsed by another impressive run (7-1) by the home team.
A pair of kills from newcomer Dorothy Swanson helped pull the Wildcats to within two points at 12-10, but the Mavs earned the final three points thanks to a kill and block from Charmaine Whitmore and attacking error from sophomore Jennie Loerch.
Loerch led all players with 17 kills, but also had 16 errors on 62 attempts. She also delivered three aces and assisted on six blocks to finish the night with 23.0 points.
Sophomore Sarah Siemens had 37 of her team's 44 assists, plus 18 digs and five block assists, while sophomore Madison Hoover dug out 22 attacks.
Junior middle blocker Neely Borger hit .364 with nine kills and five block assists in her first regular-season match in more than a year. Borger injured her knee in the spring of 2012 and missed all of last fall as a result.
Whitmore led her team with 11 kills and 14.5 points. Shelby Dickson contributed 12.5 points.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday for a doubleheader vs. Louisiana Tech (11 a.m.) and Grambling State (4:30 p.m.).