OXFORD, Ohio – Opening day of the 2017 volleyball season is in the books and WKU
Volleyball was firing on all cylinders en route to a pair of victories from the
Miami (OH) Best Western Sycamore Inn Invitational. Three-time All-American Alyssa
Cavanaugh put up a pair of double-digit kill performances on the day, leading WKU
with 16 against Southern Illinois and adding 12 more in the nightcap. Junior Rachel
Anderson put up big numbers as well, leading the Lady Toppers in the second match
with 17 strikes and hitting a collective .409 on the day.
“I’m very proud of the way our kids performed today,” head coach Travis Hudson
shared. “There were a few spots where it was a little rough looking out there as is
to be expected early on in the season, but we did some good things. We’re glad to
get two quality wins on the first day of the season.”
WKU Volleyball has claimed its season-opening match for five-consecutive seasons
after today’s sweep.
WKU 3, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-17)
Despite not owning a lead in the opening set of the season until 10-9, the Lady
Toppers quickly gained momentum over Southern Illinois by claiming 10-of-12 points
during a stretch to open up an 18-11 advantage. Alyssa Cavanaugh gave WKU set point
with her third kill of the frame before Emma Kowalkowski notched the first service
ace of the season to close the books on the 25-16 first-frame victory.
In an early 3-1 hole to begin set two, a Kayland Jackson kill pulled the Lady
Toppers within a point before back-to-back Kowalkowski aces and another Cavanaugh
kill put WKU up 5-3. The Red and White closed the six-point run with Kowalkowski’s
fourth ace of the match before Southern Illinois called for a stoppage trailing 7-3.
SIU fought back to within three points at 19-16, but the WKU squad shut the door
claiming six of the final eight points. Cavanaugh closed the frame with a kill for a
25-18 margin of victory.
For the third-straight set, the Salukis scored the opening point, but WKU fired back
with five straight to open a 5-1 lead. SIU called for timeouts trailing 19-13 and
again at 21-15, but the Lady Toppers shut the door on the sweep with a Taylor
Dellinger-Rachel Anderson block for match point at 25-17.
WKU hit .410 collectively, led by 16 kills off the hot hand of Cavanaugh for a .560
hitting clip on 25 attacks. With seven kills on 11 attacks, Jessica Lucas posted a
.636 hitting percentage to go along with 29 assists, seven digs and three blocks.
Anderson (6), Kayland Jackson (5) and Dellinger (5) each added a handful of kills or
better for the Lady Toppers. Sydney Engle filled the stat sheet with eight digs,
seven assists, four kills, one block and an ace.
WKU 3, MIAMI (OH) 1 (25-22, 25-20, 25-27, 25-19)
Up against the tournament hosts for their season-opener, the Lady Toppers held off
the RedHawks to claim match two by a 3-1 score.
Set one action saw the RedHawks stay within three points for the first part of the
frame before the hosts clawed back within one trailing 23-22. WKU took advantage of
a Miami (OH) ball handling error for set point and Dellinger punched home a kill for
the 25-22 first-set win.
In the second frame, neither side owned more than a two-point advantage until the
Lady Toppers opened up a 15-12 lead which was immediately followed by a RedHawks
stoppage. Out of the timeout, the Red and White claimed five of the next seven
points for a 20-14 lead. Kills off the hands of Anderson and Dellinger, followed by
a Sophia Cerino ace gave WKU a 23-16 margin before Engle would secure the set
victory with a kill to close the book at 25-20.
After the long break, the RedHawks came back firing using a six-point run to open a
14-9 lead over the Lady Toppers. Down 16-22, WKU claimed seven of the next eight
points to tie things at 23-23. Both defending conference champions ended up tied at
the next two points as well before Miami (OH) secured the final two tallies to avoid
an opening day sweep.
After claiming the first point of set four, WKU would fall into an early 5-3 hole
before going on to take five of the next six points to regain momentum and the lead.
The RedHawks pulled within two at 10-8 before the Lady Toppers would rattle off six
straight points off the serve of Hallie Shelton to double up the hosts. WKU pulled
ahead to a 22-15 lead to force Miami (OH)’s second timeout of the frame before
shutting the door with a 25-19 win to secure the match.
Anderson led the way offensively for WKU with 17 kills on 32 swings for a .438
hitting clip and four blocks while Cavanaugh notched 12 kills of her own to go along
with four blocks and five digs. Dellinger finished with eight kills, four digs, two
blocks and an assist as well.
Engle did a bit of everything for the Lady Toppers, registering a match-high 20 digs
in addition to eight kills, four assists and a block while hitting .304.
Defensively, the Lady Toppers out-dug Miami (OH) by a 76-71 margin. Darby Music
recorded 11 digs with Kowalkowski just behind her at 10. Shelton posted seven digs
of her own.
Facilitating the offense, Lucas tallied 40 kills in the second match to go along
with 14 digs, six kills and a service ace. The senior was in triple-double territory
entering the final set but ultimately notched her first double-double outing of the
Action from the Miami (OH) Best Western Sycamore Inn Invitational will wrap up
Saturday for WKU Volleyball with an 8:30 a.m. first serve against Northern Arizona.
The Lumberjacks went 1-0 on the first day of action with a five-set comeback win
over Southern Illinois.
With the home opener just around the corner, volleyball season tickets are available
online at WKUSports.com or by calling the WKU ticket office at 1-800-5-BIGRED.
Season ticket holders will receive 12 general admission tickets with the Flexible
Ticket Package that can be used to attend the home games of his or her choice. This
plan allows the flexibility to choose which volleyball games the buyer wants to
attend and the number of tickets used for each game. Season ticket holders also gain
exclusive access to pre-game chalk talks with Hudson, who enters his 23rd season at
the helm of WKU volleyball.
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.