The Mustangs begin conference play in Moody Coliseum against UCF on Friday at 7 p.m and then again on Sunday against USF at 1 p,m.
SMU is coming in hot with an 11-match win streak.
Let’s start with a quick Mustang recap on the season this far. SMU is 11-1 on the season, with the first and only loss in the season opener against San Francisco, in August. Since then the Mustangs have continued to climb the NCAA rankings.
During the Mustangs win streak they managed to sweep six matches, winning two in four sets and three in five. One of the latest victories was over New Mexico in a close 15-13 victory in the fifth set. The Mustangs also won to then-No. 24 Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Leading the team this season are captains Avery Acker and Caroline Young. Acker leads the conference and is No. 9 in the NCAA with 11.61 assists per set. Young is eight in the league scoring 3.55 kills per set with 156 in 44 sets played. Young is hitting .274 with 19 aces, putting her second in the conference.
The Mustangs finished last season 22-9 and 14-4 in their conference play, claiming second place in the league.
“Last season we didn’t have as great of a season, so I feel like this season we have a little more confidence, especially going into conference games,” Young said. “Also, we were here pretty much the whole summer working out as a team, practicing at least three times a week and just doing little things that I think definitely have contributed to our success.”
If winning a program-best 11 straight matches, and receiving votes for the third straight week wasn’t enough the Mustangs, SMU was picked to win the American Athletic Conference this season, collecting nine of 11 first-place votes.
“It’s mixed feelings,” Acker said. “I am very grateful that they recognize how hard we have worked and that we are a good team, but also it’s something that we really need to prove. Getting preseason picked first doesn’t show anything and we need to prove that we actually are number one.”
SMU hopes to prove it is No. 1 this weekend in the matchup against UCF and USF, with the returning Mustangs out to make a statement.
Acker is the returning setter of the year and on the All-American Athletic Conference First Team with her two teammates Young and Janelle Giordano. Outside hitters, Cailin Bula and Abbey Bybel were named to the second team and are also returning.
SMU is 9-3 all-time against UCF, after sweeping the series last season and The Mustangs are 1-2 all-time against USF.
Hopes are high, dreams are big and there is no telling how far SMU could go this season. Before Acker graduates she has a few things she wants the team to accomplish.
“We want to put SMU on the national volleyball scene,” Acker said. “We will be ranked top 25 in the next two years finishing the season in the top 25 and starting the season in the top 25.”
Come out this weekend and support the Mustangs in Moody Coliseum. Be sure to check for updates and recaps on smudailycampus.com.