NOVEMBER 4, 2018 FLORIA ATLANTIC VS WESTERN KENTUCKY-SENIOR NIGHT

Led by outstanding efforts from Rachel Anderson and Mary Martin in their final match at Diddle Arena, WKU Volleyball took down second-place Florida Atlantic with a 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Lady Toppers won set won 25-20 before the Owls knotted the match with a 29-27 set two victory. Following the break, the Red and White took 25-20 and 26-24 decisions to claim the contest.

“Well we played at a championship level today and that’s what is exciting,” head coach Travis Hudson opened. “We’ve been fighting for that all year. A little bit of confidence is starting to creep in with these kids down the stretch. We played at a really high level, Florida Atlantic is a fantastic team and we knew we had to play well to be in. You just hope with a young team, as I said way back in August, you hope by the end you are starting to play pretty good volleyball and that’s seems to be what we are doing.”

Seniors Anderson and Martin gave the Lady Topper faithful an impressive farewell, as Anderson tallied 15 kills and Martin recorded 47 assists, her most in an outing this season. Martin also added 11 digs for her first double-double performance of the season. Anderson nearly recorded a double double of her own with seven blocks in the win.

With the victory, the Lady Toppers picked up their fourth-straight win while concluding its 2018 home slate with an 11-4 record. WKU improved to 18-9 overall and 9-3 in league play with the victory. On the contrary, Florida Atlantic moved to 19-6 overall and 9-3 in C-USA action.

Back-and-forth play throughout much of the opening set saw the match knotted at 15-15 before the Lady Toppers tallied the next two points thanks to an ace followed by a block to force a Florida Atlantic timeout. FAU scored three of the next four points for an 18-18 tie before the Red and White responded with a 4-0 run. In the lead at 23-20, WKU closed the set with a kill by Katie Isenbarger and a Payton Frederick service ace. The WKU attack worked at a .419 clip led by five Anderson kills.

In set two, Florida Atlantic held an early lead as large as six at 12-6 before WKU mounted a comeback scoring 10 of the next 13 points for a 16-15 lead. FAU responded and took a 20-18 lead by the Lady Toppers erased the deficit with a 3-0 run. From there neither side would lead by more than a single point until the set was decided. The Owls managed to fend off four set points in favor of the Lady Toppers before claiming a 29-27 second-set victory to even the match at 1-1.

“After that second set, we went in and talked about it and said it’s more about what we can control,” Martin shared about the message delivered at the intermission. “We came out with a new mindset, started from there and then just start rolling through.”

WKU came out of the locker room to grab an early 12-7 lead and never looked back. The Owls pulled within two at 13-11 but the Lady Toppers came right back with the next three points to extend their lead. FAU attempted a late comeback but the Red and White held on to claim the 25-20 victory for a 2-1 lead in the contest. Offensively, the team operated at a .345 clip in the frame with 15 kills while posting a sideout rating of 69-percent on the defensive side. After the first two sets each saw 14 ties and eight lead changes, the third frame saw the score tied just twice in addition to only one lead change occurring.

Florida Atlantic opened the fourth set with a quick 4-1 advantage before Sophia Cerino tallied a kill and two aces followed by a block from Anderson for a 4-0 Lady Topper run and the lead. WKU was the first to double digits with a 10-8 advantage but Florida Atlantic fought back and owned several one-point leads down the stretch. After WKU regained the lead off an errant FAU attack, the Owls took a timeout trailing 23-22 late in the set. Out of the break, the sides traded kills before the visitors added a block to knot the set at 24-24. From there, Anderson found the floor for a kill off the feed from Martin before heading back to the service line and recording an ace to close the match.

“What a script, the kid is an All-American, in her last match on Diddle Arena’s court, on senior day and she serves an ace to win it,” Hudson said of Anderson’s ace. “You can’t draw it up any better than that. It felt like that ball hung up in the air forever but when it feel it was really a cool moment.”

Leading WKU in kills on the day was junior Cerino, who racked up 16 in the four-set victory while hitting .387. She added a career-high six aces including three in the third set alone in addition to three digs and a block.

Lauren Matthews finished with nine kills on the day along with two digs and two blocks. Kayland Jackson added a pair of blocks along with six kills for the Lady Toppers as well.

Facilitating the offense from start to finish was Martin who racked up her second career double double. In addition to her 47 assists and 11 digs, the Lexington, Ky., native tallied three kills, a block and an ace. While the offense worked at a collective .264 rate, Martin saw 49-percent of her sets find the floor for kills.

“In my heart I just felt like she was, we’ve been back and forth between those two setters a lot and they’re very close in terms of what they give us,” Hudson shared of the decision to start Martin. “Taylor Bebout has been playing pretty well lately but it’s Senior Day and Mary is someone who means so much to her teammates and I just felt in my heart that putting her on the court was going to give us a lift today and she went out and that’s the best I’ve ever seen her play. Again what better script can you write for two seniors on Senior Day than to finish it the way they did?”

From the service line, WKU racked up a season-best 13 aces. The last time WKU reached that mark was back on Oct. 14, 2016 in a four-set win over UAB.

RACHEL ANDERSON ON WHAT SHE’LL MISS MOST ABOUT DIDDLE ARENA:

“The fans. Our community is amazing, the love and support and encouragement we get from all of them and I can’t explain it, it’s great. I’m happy our season isn’t over and it hasn’t really hit me yet, but it was a great turnout and it was just a great day for us.”

NEXT UP:

With its home schedule complete, WKU Volleyball will hit the road for the final week of conference play. On Thursday, the Lady Toppers will look to spoil UAB’s senior day before the squad heads to Ruston, La., to visit Louisiana Tech on Sunday.

TOPPER NOTES:

  • Run of the match: A 4-0 run by the Lady Toppers in set one. Tied at 18-18 coming down the stretch, WKU Volleyball collected the next four points and ultimately won the set 25-20.
  • WKU now leads Florida Atlantic 23-0 in the all-time series including an 8-0 mark in Conference USA tilts.
  • Rachel Anderson neared her second double double of the season with 15 kills and seven blocks in the win.
  • Mary Martin notched her first double-double showing of the year drawing the start on Senior Day. The veteran racked up 47 assists – one shy of her career high – and 11 digs.
  • Payton Frederick racked up another double-digit dig showing with 10 in the victory.
  • WKU racked up a season-best 13 aces. The last time WKU reached that mark was back on Oct. 14, 2016 in a four-set win over UAB.
  • Sophia Cerino led the team in kills with 16 while adding a career-best six aces from the service line.

How to Follow the Lady Toppers: For complete information on WKU Volleyball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUVolleyball and head coach Travis Hudson at @TravisHudsonWKU.

-@WKUSports-

________________

Jessica Leifheit

Assistant Director

WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations

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