ABILENE – Sometimes dreams do come true and that was definitely the case Tuesday night for some members of the Abilene Christian volleyball team as the Wildcats shocked the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, 3-1, in front of 1300 fans at a rocking Moody Coliseum.
Kellen Mock and sophomore outside hitter Jennie Loerch each predicted the Wildcats (3-2) would win in four sets during Monday night’s ACU Coaches Show, but who could have foreseen their blowout 25-11 score in the first set, an incredible 11-3 run to start the third, or even the three big blocks and game-winning kill from freshman Lexi Mercier during the decisive fourth game.
A native of Centennial, Colo., Mercier finished the match with just four kills on 12 attempts (.250) but she provided a menacing presence at the net in finishing with two solo blocks and five block assists. She and setter Sarah Siemens blocked two attacks in the early moments of set four, helping the Wildcats jump out to a 4-0 lead.
ACU then extended its lead all the way to six points at 17-11, but the Red Raiders soon cut that advantage in half on a kill from Meghan Stacy and later captured their first lead at 23-22 following the second of two ball handling errors by the Wildcats, capping a 7-3 run.
Loerch brought the lead back to ACU at 24-23 with consecutive kills, but Aubree Piper tied it at 24-24 with her 10th kill. Piper, who finished with a solid .296 hitting percentage, struggled mightily, however, at the service line and her third error of the match gave the Wildcats a one-point lead and the serve.
On the Wildcats’ final possession, libero Madison Hoover dug out an attack near the back line, popping it perfectly to Siemens, who then set up Mercier right in front of the net. Mercier made a short leap, but attacked the ball with such force and precision that she was able to split a pair of Red Raider blockers.
The Wildcats finished the night with a .229 hitting percentage after hitting .080 the week before in Lubbock. Loerch led all players with 16 kills (.222) and was one of five Wildcats to finish with a double-digit total in digs with 14.
Hoover dug out 22 attacks, while Caley Johnson had 18 followed by Siemens with 13 and Madelyn Robinett with 11. Robinett also provided three service aces and was on the line for 12 consecutive points in the first set as the Wildcats pushed their lead from 11-10 to 23-10.
After losing badly in set one, Texas Tech (5-5) made some lineup adjustments and coasted to a 25-13 victory in the second frame, but the Wildcats again led from start to finish in set three (25-18) before withstanding a furious Red Raider rally in set four.
Robinett also was the Wildcats’ server as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third set. ACU led comfortably most of the way, and even after the Red Raiders trimmed their deficit to two points at 16-14, the Wildcats received an unlikely point from Hoover on a misplayed floater and then the duo of Mercier and Reeder recorded back-to-back blocks.
Reeder provided two additional kills down the stretch in set three and finished with 10.5 points on the night.
Siemens, meanwhile, snuck in five kills to go along with her 35 assists and Neely Borger contributed 9.0 points on seven kills and two solo blocks.
Texas Tech was held to a .129 hitting percentage, which included a -.021 mark in the first set. Stacy led all Raiders with 11 kills and two service aces.
The Wildcats return to action this weekend for the Comcast Lobo Invitational hosted by University of New Mexico. ACU will play the Lobos in addition to Northern Arizona and Towson Friday and Saturday.