WKU Volleyball action from the Holiday Inn University Plaza Hotel Invitational did not disappoint as the Lady Toppers closed weekend play a perfect 3-0 following a sweep of Saint Louis. Alyssa Cavanaugh continued her dominant play with 18 kills in the sweep to bring her weekend total to 59 and was named the tournament MVP. Joining Cavanaugh on the All-Tournament team was Amara Listenbee who amassed 14 blocks across the weekend.
“Amara [Listenbee], what a lift she gave us last night, she’s such a senior leader,” Head coach Travis Hudson said of the Beloit, Wis., native. “She’s a great teammate and she works hard every day. She supports her teammates. Our other All-Tournament player, Alyssa Cavanaugh, is one of those kids that I think has played with a little bit of weight on her shoulders. She and I spent some time together this week and I think she is starting to settle into just enjoying herself play the game again, letting it be what it is. What it is is pretty doggone good for that kid.”
In three matches, Cavanaugh hit at a blistering .414 offensive clip to lead WKU while also contributing 11 blocks at the net.
Hilltopper nation did not disappoint from the stands either as the Red and White closed home play until the end of the month.
“We love playing on our home floor,” Cavanaugh shared. “We always have those fans that come. We have the Hudson Hillraisers, they’re just awesome this year. They painted up this weekend which was so much fun; we took a bunch of pictures with them. Having all the little kids and teams come through too, that means a lot to us. They see us as role models and we appreciate that, and we want to do the best that we can for them.”
WKU opened the weekend finale by getting on the scoreboard first thanks to a Jessica Lucas kill. The score evened at 1-1 after a service error but WKU would opened up as much as a five-point lead before the Billikens fought back to knot the set at 11-11. Cavanaugh would then send home her first kill of the night, followed by a Rachel Anderson strike before the duo combined for a block to give the Lady Toppers a 14-11 advantage. Out of a Saint Louis timeout, WKU notched two more points to push the lead to five and would never look back en route to the 25-18 first frame victory. Taylor Dellinger led the way in the set with five kills.
Second set action saw Saint Louis take the slimmest of leads at 2-1 before the Lady Toppers would hold the lead the rest of the way. Saint Louis looked for an answer calling timeouts trailing 7-2 and 15-8 but would not get within two points the rest of the way. Cavanaugh tallied nine kills in the second set alone while the Lady Toppers hit a collective .300 mark on the way to the first of two 25-20 set victories.
Following the long break, Saint Louis tried to hang around but the Red and White wanted no part of that. The Billikens called for stops trailing 8-3 and again in the middle of four Sophia Cerino serves at 19-12. Out of the break, Cerino recorded an ace and the Lady Toppers would go on to close things with another 25-20 victory to claimed their fifth-straight victory. The offense recorded a .385 hitting clip while the defense secured a 71-percent sideout rating in the frame.
Behind Cavanaugh’s 18 kills, Anderson notched 10 of her own, attacking at a .500 clip on the night. Dellinger finished with six kills while Sydney Engle added five.
Lucas finished the night with 36 assists, six digs, three kills and two blocks. Her final dig of the evening also marked her 1,000th career tally in the category.
The WKU block was big again as the team registered 8.5 stops at the net in the sweep. Anderson notched seven assist stops while Cavanaugh chipped in three more. The Lady Toppers finished the tournament with 40.5 blocks across three matches.
From the back row, Emma Kowalkowski led the dig effort, tallying 13. Engle contributed 10 of her own while Hallie Shelton posted five along with Dellinger.
“I think this weekend is the best weekend that we’ve played, collectively as a group,” Cavanaugh said of the Red and White. “Our defense was amazing especially in this last game. They were making pushes and that allows us to have so many opportunities to put balls away. We’re going to take that from this weekend, and our energy from this weekend and hopefully move forward.”
Hudson shared his overall impressions of the weekend as well, stating, ““I’m really, really happy. I think we came along way this weekend in a lot of ways. I thought today was the most confident we had played. I feel like we’ve kind of been playing with a weight on our shoulders and hopefully last night lifted that a little bit. Tonight, was the loosest and most confident we’ve played, and it was fun to see.”
WKU will hit the road Tuesday for a midweek match up at Lipscomb who is also receiving votes prior to Monday’s newest AVCA Coaches Poll. First serve from Nashville, Tenn., is slated for 6:30 p.m.
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