WKU Volleyball picked up its 17th-consecutive victory with Saturday afternoon’s sweep of Middle Tennessee at the E.A. Diddle Arena. The Lady Toppers utilized a variety of weapons with four players registering seven kills or better.
With the win, the Red and White climbed to 26-2 on the 2016 and improved to 13-0 in Conference USA action. WKU has now won its last 44 matches at E.A. Diddle Arena against conference opposition. Middle Tennessee fell to 5-22 overall and 2-10 in league play with the loss.
“It has always been about us getting better every time we step on the court,” stated head coach Travis Hudson. “That’s been the focus. We’ve won a lot of matches even when we didn’t play great this year. I’m really excited, we are really starting to put things together and it’s going to make us an awfully tough out as we go into tournament time.”
First-set action got underway with WKU jumping out to a 10-5 lead. The Lady Toppers jumped ahead to an 18-7 advantage and forced Middle Tennessee to call for a timeout. Scoring seven of the final 10 points, WKU secured the opening set with a 25-10 win. In the frame, the Lady Toppers hit .560 as a team while both Taylor Dellinger and Alyssa Cavanaugh produced four kills. Middle Tennessee was held to a .034 attack clip.
The Blue Raiders hung tough and didn’t back down in set two, claiming the first three points. That lead would be Middle Tennessee’s largest of the match as WKU powered back. With the final of eight second-set ties coming at 14-14, the Lady Toppers would lead the rest of the way. Middle Tennessee opted for a timeout down 21-24, but out of the stoppage, Amara Listenbee had other plans and used a solo stop to close the set up 25-21. Cavanaugh produced six kills in the set while Dellinger chipped in four more.
Jessica Lucas got the Lady Toppers on the board first in set three with her third kill of the afternoon. Play went back and forth with four ties and a pair of lead changes in the set but WKU used a four-point run to take the lead for good up 8-6. An 11-1 run by WKU gave the Lady Toppers a 19-8 advantage and included a pair of service aces off the hand of Kaelin Grimes. WKU used a Listenbee kill to get to match point and then an Emma Kowalkowski ace sealed the sweep at 25-13. Lucas finished with six kills on seven attacks in the set while WKU hit .423 as a squad.
“We are always ready in a matchup against your rival,” said Hudson. “We’ve had some wars with them through the years. There’s a lot of nights when you are worried about your kids mentality, but when you’re playing your rival from right down the road it’s usually not an issue and I thought we were ready to play today.”
Cavanaugh led the way for WKU with 10 kills in the sweep while working at a .455 clip. The junior also chipped in a pair of digs. Dellinger finished with nine kills on the day followed by Lucas at eight and Rachel Anderson with seven.
Lucas finished with 29 assists to go along with eight kills and a pair of block assists. She facilitated the WKU offense to a .459 rate on the day.
Sydney Engle posted a trio of service aces in the match and led WKU with 12 digs. The junior also chipped in four assists and three kills. Georgia O’Connell added seven digs in the outing.
Anderson led WKU at the net with a pair of solo stops along with two block assists.
On Thursday, WKU Volleyball will close the regular season as North Texas comes to town. The 7 p.m. CT match will also be the Lady Toppers’ Senior Night where O’Connell and Grimes will be honored for contributions to the program.
“Well, coming to support these kids and we’re 26-2 on the year – it’s been a magical season. You know, we need to send these two seniors off the right way with senior night next Thursday.”
The 2016 WKU Volleyball season is being presented by the United States Marines. This season, the Marines and WKU Athletics are working together to promote the outstanding athletic and academic achievements of our female student-athletes. The Marines are proud to work with and support these future leaders of America.
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.
WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations