History was made Friday night by the WKU Volleyball team, which set a new Conference USA record of 30 straight wins against league opponents with a home sweep over Southern Miss.
The Lady Toppers (18-2) improved to 5-0 in C-USA play this season with their fourth straight 3-0 sweep, powered by senior Alyssa Cavanaugh’s impressive 24 kills in just three sets.
The 30th straight victory over league foes – which includes regular season and postseason action – broke the previous conference record of 29 consecutive wins set by Louisville from October 2003 until the Cardinals left for the Big East Conference. WKU’s record streak began on Nov. 1, 2015.
“It says a lot about our program – not just our team or our kids,” WKU head coach Travis Hudson said. “It says a lot about the program we’ve built, because that spans over a three-year period. To be ready to play every night against quality opponents is something we’re really, really proud of.”
C-USA programs have won at least 20 straight conference matches just five times in the league’s history, including WKU twice. The Lady Toppers also put together a 20-match winning streak in league play from 2014-15.
In addition to the new league record, WKU has also won 14 straight matches overall this season. The Lady Toppers have won 48 straight home contests against C-USA foes at E.A. Diddle Arena.
“You just go into every game doing your best and putting your best foot forward, and that’s just a perk,” Cavanaugh said. “The winning streak is just a perk. It’s not something that we focus on, but it’s a great reward for our hard work.”
The teams went back and forth early in the first set, with neither squad leading by more than one until Southern Miss opened a 16-14 advantage. The Golden Eagles led 18-15 when WKU began to rally, eventually tying it at 21-21 on back-to-back kills by junior Rachel Anderson.
The Lady Toppers ultimately scored the final six points of the set, closing out the 25-21 win on a block combo from Anderson and senior Sydney Engle. WKU hit .548 in the first set.
WKU used a similar strong finish in the second set, scoring four straight crucial points to break an 18-all tie. Cavanaugh opened the set with two straight kills, tallied the team’s first ace and later broke the 18-18 stalemate with another two kills.
Cavanaugh had nine kills in the second set alone, including the final attack to claim a 25-23 victory.
Cavanaugh opened the third set with four straight kills, and WKU scored 13 of the final 15 points of the set to secure the 25-14 decision.
Southern Miss fell to 12-8 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
“I think tonight was a veteran win,” Hudson said. “We were behind in a lot of these sets and kept our composure and made winning plays at the end of sets. I think that has to do with the fact that we have a lot of kids that have been in big matches that are comfortable in those situations.”
WKU finished with a .398 hitting percentage and held Southern Miss to a .194 clip.
Cavanaugh’s 24 kills were just two shy of her career high, which she achieved at Florida Atlantic this season in a five-set match. Her 24 kills were a new career high for a three-set match and actually tied her record for a four-set match.
Anderson added 13 kills and four blocks, while senior Jessica Lucas notched her fifth double-double of the year with 40 assists and 10 digs. Engle chipped in eight kills and a team-high 11 digs.
The Lady Toppers’ homestand concludes next week as they close regular season nonconference play by hosting Austin Peay at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday at Diddle Arena.
“I think people had fun tonight, watching this team play,” Hudson said. “They don’t have many opportunities left to watch Alyssa Cavanaugh and Jessica Lucas and Sydney Engle and these kids play. They’re pretty special to watch, and they certainly were tonight.”
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