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Southland's best blockers come to Moody Coliseum this weekend

Published On: Oct 08 2013 12:01:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 08 2013 12:01:27 PM CDT
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ABILENE, Texas -

Wildcat freshman continues to lead the Southland Conference with 1.65 blocks per set, and this weekend she'll go face-to-face against the league's No. 2 and 3 blockers when Abilene Christian plays host to Lamar and Sam Houston State at Moody Coliseum.

The Cardinals (4-14, 2-4 SLC) and ACU (5-9, 1-5 SLC) play Thursday at 7 p.m. in a match that will be lived streamed via Stretch Internet's Game Central Portal. Sam Houston State (9-6), which is tied with Central Arkansas for first place in the Southland at 6-0, will be here Saturday at 2 p.m.

A native of Centennial, Colo., Mercier was one of the Wildcats' few bright spots during their 0-2 trip to Houston Baptist and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Huskies battled back from a 2-1 deficit last Thursday to hand the Wildcats' first five-set loss since August, and then the third-place Islanders won, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon.

Mercier, however, did all she could at the net in finishing with 24 blocks and 28.0 points.

Mercier was part of 12 blocks (two solos) in each match and became the first Wildcat since current assistant coach in 2010 to block 10 or more shots twice during a single season. Although she'll need seven more blocks to tie Jana Moore's ACU single-match record of 19 (set in 1988), Mercier should be able to crack into the Wildcats' single-season top-10 list for blocks. Mercier, who currently has 86 blocks (11 solo), needs just 50 more over the next 10 matches to tie Shawna Hines' 10th-place total of 136 (2008).

Moore holds the Wildcats' season record for most blocks with 243 (1998), while Linda Evans (1988-92) is the program record holder with 676. Current Wildcat junior , who missed all of last year with an injury, is 10th all-time at ACU with 243 blocks. Borger has 37 blocks this season in addition to 52 kills and a .242 hitting percentage.

Sophomore middle blocker has contributed 36 blocks (0.77 per set) in giving the Wildcats' the best overall block in the Southland Conference at 2.46 stops per set.

Other Wildcats ranked among the conference's top-15 stat leaders include sophomore outside hitter (3.18 kills per set), sophomore setter (8.06 assists per set) and sophomore libero (4.38 digs per set).

Lamar comes to ACU with the league's No. 2 blocker in Chelsea Grant (1.11 per set) and one of its top-five attackers in Sierra Whittaker (3.41 kills per set), but their efforts haven't been enough to give the Cardinals a winning record this season. Lamar started the year 1-10 before winning three of four near the start of conference play; however, its fortunes recently turned again as the Cardinals are now in the midst of a three-match losing streak.

As a team, Lamar is ranked among the bottom half of the Southland Conference in most statistical categories, including hitting percentage (.131), kills (10.48 per set) and digs (12.80 per set).

On the opposite end of the statistical spectrum are the Bearkats, who have four shutout wins during their five-match winning streak. This is a powerful team that leads the league with 1.92 service aces per set, and is hitting .187 to go along with 12.45 kills per set. Sam Houston State is just as good defensively, averaging a league best 16.04 digs per set and ranking sixth in blocks with 1.94 per set.

In addition to having the league's third best blocker in Haley Neisler (1.05 per set), the Bearkats also have three players ranked among the top 15 in service aces: Breanna Homer (0.57), Claire Kilpatrick (0.31) and Devene Wells-Gibson (0.29).

Wells-Gibson doubles as the Bearkats' top attack option, delivering a league best 4.24 kills per set (208 overall), while Homer has dug out 4.22 atttacks per set.

Information provided by ACU athletics department.