HOUSTON, Texas, – A high-powered offensive effort that transitioned into a
great-defensive showing helped WKU Volleyball sweep Rice to pick up its
22nd-straight win on the 2017 season from Houston Friday night. Three Lady Toppers
notched double-digit kill outings in Rachel Anderson, Alyssa Cavanaugh and Taylor
Dellinger in addition to a trio of double-digit dig efforts from Darby Music,
Jessica Lucas and Emma Kowalkowski.
“This was a great win for our team on the road tonight,” head coach Travis Hudson
shared. “We came out hot offensively but Rice was able to make some nice adjustments
as we went along. That forced us to have to raise our level of defense down the
stretch to secure this win. I’m really proud of our kids tonight.”
The victory improved WKU’s record to 26-2 on the season and 12-0 in Conference USA
action. With the sweep, the Lady Toppers have now swept 20 matches, the most in the
NCAA. WKU has claimed its last 37 outings over C-USA foes as well. The streak of
22-straight wins now stands alone as WKU Volleyball’s second-longest streak in
program history as Rice drops to 19-7 overall and 9-3 in league play.
Friday night action opened from Houston with a Dellinger kill before Rice tallied
the match’s next two points. The Lady Toppers ran off the following five points to
secure a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the set. Rice pulled
within four at 17-13 but WKU claimed eight of the final 12 points in the frame to
win the opening set 25-17. The Red and White worked at a blistering .581 offensive
clip in the frame with 20 kills on 31 swings. Anderson and Cavanaugh each registered
six kills in the set while Lucas recorded 15 assists.
Set two saw the Lady Toppers open up a 5-0 lead to force another early Rice timeout.
Out of the break, the Owls got on the board but WKU responded with three more
points, including a pair of aces by Lucas to open up an 8-1 advantage. Rice inched
closer in the middle of the frame, pulling within five at 14-9 but WKU pieced
together another run to push its lead to 19-10. Anderson capped the second set with
her eighth kill of the match for the 25-16 victory. Cavanaugh led the way with five
kills in the frame while Sydney Engle and Dellinger each chipped in four. WKU
finished with three aces and 23 digs in the set, with Kowalkowski accounting for
WKU jumped out to an early 5-1 lead again in set three but Rice battled back,
scoring 10 of the next 13 points to take an 11-8 advantage. From there, the sides
worked to 10 ties down the stretch of the third set. While the Lady Toppers held a
slim 19-18 lead late, Rice strung together three-straight points to take a 21-19
lead deep in the set. At that point, Anderson found a groove and fired off
three-straight kills for the visitors to give WKU the 22-21 lead. After a Rice
timeout, the Owls evened things up before Anderson struck again to give the Red and
White a lead for good. A Rice attack error brought the frame to match point before
Engle found the floor with a kill to close the book on the 25-22 set three victory.
Anderson finished with six kills in the frame while Engle and Dellinger each added
three. Music tallied 10 of the Lady Toppers’ 29 third-set digs while Lucas added
Lucas registered her seventh double-double performance of the season in the match.
The senior tallied 39 assists and 13 digs for her fourth double-double in a sweep
this year. Contributing plenty of other ways as well, Lucas finished with five
kills, posting three block assists and notching a pair of service aces.
Engle subtly reached triple double territory from the Tudor Fieldhouse. She finished
with nine assists, eight kills and seven digs in the match to fill the statsheet.
Leading the offense was Anderson with 14 kills on the night, working at a .440 clip.
The junior also added four digs, two block assists and an ace. Anderson now sits in
10th on WKU’s career block assists list with 236 in her time on The Hill.
Dellinger closed the book with a season-best 12 kills for the second-straight match.
Cavanaugh joined Dellinger and Anderson in the double-digit kill column with 12 as
well as WKU Volleyball has now seen three players achieve the feat three times this
year, all in Conference USA tilts.
Music finished with a career-high 15 digs in the sweep marking her fifth
double-digit dig effort. The freshman also added an assist and an ace on the night.
Kowalkowski added 13 digs, posting her 14th double-digit dig showing of the year.
WKU finished the evening hitting .286 as a team with 54 kills while holding the Rice
attack to a .167 clip and 30 kills. No Owl attacker had more than seven kills in the
match. Additionally, WKU out-dug Rice – the C-USA dig leader – 65-50 on the night.
The Lady Toppers will close weekend play in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Sunday afternoon.
First serve of the match from Alumni Memorial Gym is slated for 1 p.m. CT, and the
tilt will again be streamed on beIN Sports Connect. A win over the Blue Raiders on
Sunday would secure at least a share of WKU’s fourth-consecutive C-USA
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.