Behind a single-match school-record .549 team hitting percentage, WKU Volleyball swept its fifth straight match claiming a 3-0 non-conference victory over visiting Austin Peay from Diddle Arena. Dating back to Sept. 22, at Florida Atlantic, WKU has won 16-consecutive sets and now owns a 15-match winning streak – the second longest in the nation.
WKU’s .549 team hitting percentage also reached national highs, tying the third-best three-set match team clip across the nation this season. The rate also ranks third across all matches. Austin Peay hit a collective .200 on the match.
“I thought that we handled the ball really well tonight on first contact and when you do that and have an All-American setter, you’ll put yourself in a pretty good position to score and we did that for most of the night,” Travis Hudson opened. “We always pride ourselves with being able to come at teams from multiple positions. There have been times this year when Alyssa’s had to carry us, or Rachel, but when we’re really unstoppable is when we can come at teams from everywhere and tonight was one of those nights.”
The Lady Toppers climbed to 19-2 on the season with the midweek straight-set victory and will finish the regular season non-conference slate with a 14-2 record. Additionally, the Red and White are now 8-0 in the friendly confines of Diddle Arena and have won their last 16 matches at home dating back to last season.
Austin Peay moved to 17-4 on the season with its second-straight loss. The Lady Govs came in at No. 65 in the latest RPI poll and mark the sixth top-100 rated RPI squad the Lady Toppers have taken down this non-conference season.
Tuesday night action opened with Austin Peay getting on the board first before the sides traded points to an even 4-4 when Rachel Anderson found the floor for one of her match-high 13 kills followed by a Jessica Lucas ace for a quick two-point advantage. WKU would go on to claim 10-of-13 points during a stretch in the heart of the set to open up an 18-9 lead. APSU fought back within four points at 22-18 but the Lady Toppers powered through to secure the 25-20 first-set victory behind a .667 team hitting percentage. Anderson and Alyssa Cavanaugh each notched five kills in the frame.
Set two also began with the Lady Govs getting on the scoreboard first. Neither side owned a lead larger than two points until WKU took advantage of an APSU attack error to open the margin to three at 14-11. Taylor Dellinger followed with one of her five kills to force an Austin Peay timeout before Anderson added another strike out of the stoppage to push the lead to five. WKU held a 20-13 lead following yet another Anderson kill before Sophia Cerino checked in and served back-to-back aces to push the lead to nine (22-13). Cavanaugh went on to make it set point with a solo block before APSU closed the frame with an errant serve. WKU claimed the second frame 25-15 after a .650 team hitting clip in the set led by five Lucas kills. The Lady Toppers were hitting a blistering .659 rate after two sets of play.
After the long break, the hosts got on the board first for the first time in the match, gathering a quick two-point advantage. Austin Peay went on to score the next four points and owned a lead in the set until the 8-8 juncture. WKU kept pulling further away before the Lady Govs called for a stoppage trailing 17-12. The Lady Toppers pushed their lead to seven with a block assist by Hallie Shelton and Amara Listenbee before Sydney Engle followed with a kill to make the score 22-14. WKU went on to win the third set just as they did the second, on an APSU service error. The Lady Toppers worked at a .370 hitting clip in the final frame as Anderson found the floor for four more kills.
All seven Lady Toppers with at least one attack in the match worked at a .294 hitting clip or better on the evening. Cavanaugh finished at .294 with seven kills on 17 swings while Anderson led everyone with a career-high .800 clip and 13 kills.
Lucas filled the statsheet once again, tallying eight kills, 32 assists, six digs and a service ace to go along with a .500 attack rate herself. The setter connected with the WKU attackers for kills on better than 60 percent of her sets.
Engle was another Lady Topper with stats all over the sheet, racking up eight kill, five assists, four digs, two blocks and a .600 hitting percentage.
While WKU out-dug Austin Peay by 10 on the night (30-20), while no Lady Topper finished with double-digit digs. Libero Emma Kowalkowski notched a match-high seven digs while Darby Music and Lucas each added six. Of all 13 Lady Toppers that saw action, there were only four players to not record a dig in the match.
At the net, Cavanaugh registered a pair of solo blocks in addition to a block assist. Her pair of solo stops moved her into sole possession of ninth place on the program’s all-time list with 82. WKU racked up six blocks on the night to Austin Peay’s two.
The non-conference finale between the top team from both the Ohio Valley Conference and Conference USA saw 14 total tied scores and four different lead changes.
WKU will refocus on its remaining C-USA slate with a trip to UAB and FIU on the docket for the upcoming weekend. The Friday-Sunday series will separate WKU’s pair of four-match homestands.
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.