Behind the one-two punch of Rachel Anderson and Sophia Cerino’s 35 kills and 14 blocks, WKU Volleyball outlasted FIU in Friday night’s five-set match. Redshirt-freshman setter Taylor Bebout delivered a solid performance with a 50-assist, 15-dig double double. The Lady Toppers have now won three straight with the 25-20, 24-26, 25-14, 20-25, 15-11 victory.
“This has been a difficult season for our young team but they’re starting to believe a little bit and the timing for that couldn’t be better as it will certainly be necessary on Sunday’s match,” shared head coach Travis Hudson.
With Friday’s victory, WKU improved to 17-9 on the season while picking up its third-straight Conference USA win to move to 8-3 in league contests. FIU fell to 14-11 overall and 6-5 in conference action.
Set one opened with back-and-forth scoring before FIU grabbed a three-point lead at 10-7. At that point, WKU surged ahead thank to a four-kill, two-block stretch by Anderson and Cerino to force the Panthers into calling a timeout. Out of the stoppage, an FIU hitting error extended the Red and White’s streak to seven-straight points for a 14-10 lead that WKU would not relinquish. The Lady Topper defense racked up 18 digs while adding five blocks at the net as well.
In a set that saw 16 ties and four lead changes before it was over, WKU and FIU stayed within three points of eachother the entire frame. While the Lady Toppers were the first to 20 at 20-17, FIU went on to finish strong, closing the set on a 9-1 run to even the match at 1-1 with a 26-24 win.
WKU returned to the court following the break and posted a quick 9-1 lead and never looked back on its way to a 25-14 third-set win. The Lady Toppers posted an 80-percent sideout rating while holding the Panther attack to a -.125 rating. WKU notched 14 digs, 12 kills and five blocks in the only frame that never saw a tie or lead change.
FIU responded in the fourth set again to even the match at 2-2 with a 25-20 victory. The frame saw one tie after Kayland Jackson found the floor for a kill to make the score 9-9.
In the decisive fifth set, neither bench’s lead grew larger than a single point until after the switch. FIU owned a slim 9-8 advantage before Cerino subbed in and recorded a kill, block or assist on each of the next four points for a 12-9 WKU advantage. FIU pulled within 12-10 following a timeout but Cerino followed with her 17th kill and Payton Frederick added her third ace for a 14-10 WKU lead. The Panthers added one more kill before their final serve sailed long to give the Red and White a 15-11 fifth-set victory.
On the attack, Anderson (18) and Cerino (17) combined for 35 of the Lady Toppers’ 61 kills on the night. The pair of upperclassmen recorded a collective .394 hitting clip. Anderson added eight blocks – three solo – while Cerino racked up six.
“It’s funny you ask about Rachel’s leadership because she and I sat down before last weekend’s road trip and she’s been frustrated because she like I just don’t know what to say to get us going,” Hudson said of Anderson’s play. “My response to her was, ‘you don’t need to say anything, you need to understand your gifts as a player and then if you’ll go out and play with great will and determination and confidence, those young players around you will start feeding off that’ and that’s exactly what has happened over the last three matches. She’s been very, very good.”
Lauren Matthews noted nine kills and four blocks while fellow freshman Katie Isenbarger added four kills and six blocks.
Bebout facilitated the offense to a .250 rate on the night with 50 assists. The Decatur, Ind., native also racked up a career-best 15 digs for her sixth double-double showing of the season.
Defensively, Frederick owned a match-high 23 digs – a career best mark. The rookie now owns four 20-dig showings on the season.
At the net, WKU racked up a season-high 16 blocks in the victory. The Lady Toppers have posted double-digit blocks in back-to-back matches and six times on the year.
TRAVIS HUDSON ON BONE MARROW DONOR REGISTRY:
“Well, I just hope everybody understands that they could be the difference. That’s what I want everybody to understand more than anything else is you can save a life, you can be the difference and we absolutely are on a mission to find that person that’s gonna save Alyssa but at the same time, you get in that registry and you find to be a match with anybody, what could be more rewarding than knowing you could save somebody’s life? I don’t care who it is. Alyssa is passionate about her situation but she’s just as passionate about helping the people around her that are in the same situation. I hope people will take the time. I hope they will ask the people around them to take the time because this is all about numbers and the more people we can get swabbed, the more chances Alyssa is gonna have to find that person that’s gonna help her get back to living a healthy life.”
Following its weekend in Texas, WKU Volleyball returns home for its final weekend on The Hill of the 2018 campaign. FIU comes to town for a Friday night tilt before the Lady Toppers honor seniors Rachel Anderson and Mary Martin at Sunday’s noon CT match against Florida Atlantic.
- Run of the match: Run of the match: WKU found itself down 7-10 in the first set. Kills by Anderson and Cerino were able to point the Lady Toppers toward a 7-0 scoring run, putting WKU up 14-10.
- WKU now leads FIU 35-8 in the all-time series including a 7-0 mark in Conference USA tilts.
- Rachel Anderson neared her second double double of the season with 18 kills and eight blocks in the win.
- The Lady Toppers posted a season-high 16 blocks with three different players racking up at least six stops: Anderson (8), Cerino (6), Isenbarger (6).
- Payton Frederick racked up a career-best 23 digs including a nine-dig showing in set two.
- Taylor Bebout posted her sixth double double of the season with 50 assists and a career-best 15 digs.
WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations