BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Despite three Lady Toppers posting double-digit kills on the
day, WKU Volleyball dropped a hard-fought four-set battle to Rice on Sunday from
E.A. Diddle Arena. Rachel Anderson (13), Lauren Matthews (13) and Sophia Cerino (10)
all finished with double-digit kills while Darby Music (18) and Payton Frederick
(11) added double-digit digs.
“Well Rice is just a better team than we are right now,” opened head coach Travis
Hudson. “They played really well offensively and they played really well
defensively. They’re a good team; they’re a complete team. We knew we would have to
play really well. We continue to struggle with some things out there, but our kids
continue to play hard – I’m frustrated, but not disappointed. Our kids played really
hard today and we gave ourselves a chance to be in it at the end of the third and
fourth sets and just didn’t get a break.”
WKU moved to 12-6 overall with the setback to the Owls and is now 3-1 in league
play. Rice improved to 12-4 on the season and 3-0 in C-USA matches. With the win,
Rice snapped the Lady Toppers’ 57-consecutive conference home-win streak.
Rice opened Sunday action with a 25-15 first-set victory over the Lady Toppers. The
Owls led the set from start to finish with no ties or lead changes in the frame and
held the WKU offense in check with a .053 hitting clip. Kayland Jackson led the Red
and White with three kills in the set while Music added five digs.
WKU responded in the second set and outlasted the Owls for a 26-24 victory. The
frame saw 14 ties and six lead changes through its course. Matthews put WKU on the
board with a kill for the opening point while Anderson closed the set with
back-to-back kills to even the match at 1-1. Anderson posted seven kills in the set
while Matthews added six as WKU finished with 19 as a team.
Following the break, Rice responded with a 25-22 third-set victory to take a 2-1
advantage in the contest. The Red and White led by as much as 12-8 before Rice
evened things up at 14-14. WKU held off a pair of set points but Rice ultimately
claimed the set after eight ties and a pair of lead changes.
Set four saw the sides battle back and forth but ultimately end up even at 9-9 early
on. From there, the Owls went on a 7-0 run to open a 16-9 advantage that would
extend to 18-10 so after. Following a WKU timeout, the Lady Toppers fought back with
an 8-3 run to pull within 21-18. WKU had the deficit down to two at 22-20 but out of
a Rice timeout the Owls struck for three of the next four points to close out the
set and match with a 25-21 win.
Mary Martin started her first match in the setter position this season and finished
with a season-high 45 assists along with nine digs, four kills and a block assist.
“Rice gave us their best and we have to know that were going to gets everybody’s
best, I think moving forward we have to come out ready to play every single point
because we are going to see the best from everyone and we have to know that moving
forward,” Martin said of what the squad can learn from the match.
Hallie Shelton filled the stat sheet with six digs, four aces, three kills and an
assist on the day.
At the net, WKU finished with eight collective blocks led by four from Anderson
along with three from Cerino.
WKU Volleyball is headed to Marshall for an early match on Friday with first serve
slated for 10 a.m. CT, from Huntington, W.Va. The Lady Toppers will wrap up the road
swing with a stop in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Sunday for a 1 p.m. tilt at Middle
* With the four-set loss to the Owls, WKU now leads the all-time series
against Rice 5-3.
* Rice’s victory in E.A. Diddle was the first time a conference opponent
defeated the Lady Toppers since October 4, 2011. In that span, WKU Volleyball won
57-consecutive home conference tilts dating back to its Sun Belt days. The Lady
Toppers had won their first 32 home conference matches since joining Conference USA.
* The last time WKU Volleyball lost a home conference match, the squad went
on to finish 15-1 in Sun Belt matches while claiming both the SBC regular season and
* Run of the match: An 8-3 run towards the end of the fourth set. WKU trailed
18-10 prior to a timeout and responded with the run in an attempt to push the match
to a fifth set.
* Rachel Anderson and Lauren Matthews tied for a team-high 13 kills each.
Anderson now has double-digit kills in each of her last three outings.
* Alumni in attendance for alumni day included: Rachel Engle (2012-15),
Sydney Engle (2014-17), Ashley Deignan (2003-07), Noelle Langenkamp (2012-15),
Georgia O’Connell (2013-16), Haley Bodway (2012-15), Cindy Frederick (1984-88),
Kaelin Grimes (2013-16), Cynthia Potter Ingram (1981-82), Alyssa Cavanaugh
(2014-17), Cindy Wiseman (Hudson) (1991-93), Jessica Lucas (2014-17), Amara
Listenbee (2014-17) and Ashley Potts (2010-13).