ABILENE, Texas - The Abilene Christian volleyball team begins its second month of competition this weekend with a pair of Southland Conference matches at Houston Baptist and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Wildcats and Huskies meet Thursday at 7 p.m., while their match vs. the Islanders takes place Saturday at 1 p.m.
Live stats will be available to view for both contests. Corpus Christi also will offer a video stream.
The Wildcats (5-7, 1-3 Southland) won their first conference match last weekend at home, beating Nicholls State in convincing fashion, 3-0, and will need to make a carbon copy of that performance should they hope to catch the Islanders and stay ahead of the Huskies in the league standings. Winners of six of its last eight, A&M-Corpus Christi begins the week at 8-7 overall and 3-1 the Southland. The Huskies, however, have struggled and are in the midst of a seven-match losing streak that's lowered their marks to 5-10 and 0-3.
Since the start of the conference season two weeks ago, HBU has been shutout three times and lost a tough five-set decision at Lamar. As for the Islanders, their lone Southland loss was to first-place Sam Houston State on Sept. 26, but prior to that they shutout their previous four opponents.
Corpus Christi is armed with two of the league's top attackers in Ivy Baresh (3.34 kills per set) and Brianna Brink (2.85), but the team as a whole is hitting just .175, which ranks it seventh out of 14 Southland teams. The Islanders also lay claim to one of the league's top setters in senior Logen Bourque (10.31 assists) and best liberos in sophomore Hailey King (3.98 digs).
Defensively, the Islanders rank fourth in digs per set with 15.50, right behind HBU (15.85) and ACU (15.72), but their opponent hitting percentage is one of the worst in the conference at .214. By comparison, the Wildcats now have the league's fourth lowest opponent attack percentage at .173 after holding the Colonels to .068 hitting on Saturday.
Like A&M-CC, Houston Baptist is ranked high in the Southland in digs, kills and assists, but are among the bottom half of teams in several other categories, including opponent hitting percentage (.208) and blocks (1.52 blocks). Junior Madeline Gaffney is the Huskies' leading striker with a .313 attack percentage and 152 kills, and has been assisted a majority of the time by the league's No. 2 ranking setter Kayla Armer (10.52).
Junior Wildcat 's excellent showing against Nicholls State (8-1-17, .412) elevated her into the league leaders in hitting percentage at .259, but sophomore outside hitter continues to lead ACU in kills with 3.17 per set. That same afternoon, Borger was part of one of ACU's 10.0 blocks, a category which the Wildcats have led the conference in since the start of the season.
After ranking at or near the bottom in blocks through most of last season in the Lone Star Conference, the Wildcats have received a huge boost at the net from Borger's return plus the emergence of freshman . The rookie from Centennial, Colo., recorded a career-high four solo blocks vs. Nicholls to go along with four block assists to remain the SLC's top blocker with 1.44 per set.
Borger, Loerch and sophomore also have in excess of 20 blocks this fall, while setter has 16. ACU (2.19) and McNeese State (2.02) are the only conference teams averaging more than two blocks per set this season.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.
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