BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Behind Sydney Engle’s second-straight double-double performance
and a strong defensive showing across the board, WKU Volleyball picked up its
12th-consecutive victory in a 3-0 sweep of Louisiana Tech Friday night. The Lady
Topper defense shined in the contest as 11 different student-athletes tallied digs
and team recorded 51 on the match, the most cumulative digs by the squad in a three
setter since the opening weekend of the season.
“To be honest, this was one of our poorer offensive showings of the year,” head
coach Travis Hudson shared. “We were not very good offensively tonight, but I loved
it. We’ve been really trying to focus at defending at a higher level. Because we
weren’t where we normally are offensively, we had to defend. We held them to a .053
hitting percentage for the night. It’s time we win some games defensively and
tonight I thought we were pretty good on the defensive side.”
WKU Volleyball improved to 16-2 on the 2017 campaign and now owns a 3-0 mark in
Conference USA action. Louisiana Tech drops to 5-11 overall with the straight-set
loss and 0-2 in league play. With the win, the Lady Toppers have now won 28-straight
contests against Conference USA opposition and extended their home win streak
against a league opponent to 46-consecutive matches.
Despite the lopsided records, the Lady Techsters put up a strong fight on the night.
To open the evening, WKU jumped ahead to a quick 4-1 lead before LA Tech battled
back to knot things up at 5-5. However, the Lady Toppers responded by scoring the
next six points on the serve of Jessica Lucas, including an ace, to take an 11-5
lead they would not relinquish. The visitors tried to slow down WKU with timeouts
trailing 14-9 and again at 20-17. Out of the second stoppage, the visitors pulled
back within two points before Rachel Anderson registered a kill and Sophia Cerino
followed with a service ace. WKU tallied five of the final eight points in the set
to take the opening frame 25-21 as is now 14-1 in matches when winning the first
In set two, the Lady Toppers came out strong and ultimately held LA Tech to a .000
hitting clip in the frame. To open the scoring, the sides traded points to the 4-4
mark before WKU took advantage of a Lady Techster service error and a Cerino kill
for a 6-4 lead. LA Tech battled back to knot the match at 7-7 but WKU Volleyball
scored 18 of the next 26 points for a 2-0 lead in the contest with the 25-15 set two
win. The Red and White used a balanced attack in the frame that saw seven different
Lady Toppers record a kill with all but one tallying multiple strikes. Defensively,
the Lady Toppers tallied 20 digs in the set alone, led by seven from Engle.
Out of the break, the Lady Techsters came on strong, forcing four ties and a pair of
lead changes in the final set. With the sides even at 8-8, Engle recorded her 10th
kill of the match to put the Tops up for good and bring Cerino to the service line.
WKU picked up the next two points on a LA Tech attack error and a Kayland Jackson
kill before Cerino left her mark with four-straight service aces. Picking her
targets in the back row, the sophomore aced all four Lady Techsters back in serve
receive, working from the left to right sides of the court in front of her. Cerino
served WKU ahead to the 14-9 point and the squad jumped ahead 18-12 before Louisiana
Tech called for the lone stop of the set. The Lady Toppers closed the match with a
7-4 run, claiming the third frame 25-16.
Cerino accounted for five of WKU’s eight aces from behind the service line, a new
career-high for the Brentwood, Tenn., native.
“Obviously, it gave us a cushion in that third set,” Hudson said of Cerino’s aces.
“More importantly, hopefully it gives her confidence and rhythm going forward again
because it’s such a weapon. She puts a lot of heat on that serve and as a
left-hander, that ball is cutting the opposite direction of what kids are used to.
It’s problematic when she’s hitting them at the pace she did tonight.”
When asked about her success behind the service line, Cerino shared, “I’ve been
working and getting in extra reps all week, just trying to get back in that rhythm
and find it. Coming out tonight in pass and serve, I felt really good about it.
Going in I felt pretty confident that I would get back into that rhythm. It’s nice
that we were home too, when I got back into it.”
Offensively, WKU was held to a .235 attack clip on the night, led by 14 Anderson
kills. The junior middle hitter accounted for a season-best .684 hitting clip,
recording just one error on 19 swings.
“Offensively, they really had no answer for her,” Hudson said of Anderson’s
performance. “She’s capable; she’s that kind of player offensively. If you try to
stop her one on one, it’s going to be a long night on your side of the net. A lot of
the night they left her one on one and we certainly exploited it.”
Engle also hit double digit kills with 10 to go along with 13 digs for her second
double-double outing of the season. Alyssa Cavanaugh and Kayland Jackson finished
with six kills each.
Lucas dished out 35 assists in the match. The senior setter added nine digs, four
kills and an ace to her stat line as well. Also finishing with nine digs on the
night was Emma Kowalkowski.
With all 13 active players seeing match time, 11 different Lady Toppers accounted
for a dig on the evening as the team racked up 51 in total.
The Lady Toppers held Louisiana Tech to a .053 hitting percentage on the match as
the Lady Techsters managed to find the floor for just 19 kills on 94 attacks while
recording 14 errors.
After spending six straight matches away from Diddle Arena the Lady Toppers are back
at home for their next three matches. Next up for the Red and White is the first of
two match ups against Middle Tennessee. First serve is slated for noon CT on Sunday
from Diddle Arena and fans that bring a church bulletin or announcements can receive
free admission for WKU’s Faith and Family promotion.
“Being in Diddle is much nicer,” Anderson said of the home atmosphere. “The whole
week we’re here, we don’t have to worry about traveling. It’s nice being here with
the fans on our side and just being at home.”
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.