BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – For the sixth time in the last seven seasons, WKU Volleyball has been one of the final 64 teams standing in the NCAA Tournament. This season, the Lady Toppers are headed to Stanford, California, to open NCAA postseason action against Boise State (25-6). The tilt is slated for Friday evening from the Maples Pavilion with the first serve going up at 6:30 p.m. CT.
NCAA FIRST ROUND MATCH INFORMATION
WKU vs. Boise State | 6:30 p.m. CT | Maples Pavilion | Stanford, Calif.
Gametracker | Livestream (Free)
WKU’s 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance is the 10th in program history and marks the eighth automatic bid that the squad has earned. Boise State is making its first appearance in The Dance in California this weekend.
In 2016, Boise State has put together a 25-6 overall record and went 16-2 in the Mountain West Conference, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. WKU and Boise State did not have any common opponent during the 2016 campaign.
With a victory over Boise State, WKU would advance to face the winner of the No. 6 seed Stanford and Denver match in the second round on NCAA action from Maples Pavilion. The Lady Toppers are 16-5 all-time against Denver with the most recent meeting taking place in 2011. WKU is 0-2 all-time against Stanford, crossing paths in 2004 and then again in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT
With three wins in three days from Houston, Texas, the Lady Toppers won their third-consecutive Conference USA Tournament Championship, securing the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
As the top seed in the field, WKU drew No. 8 UTEP in the opening round and ended the Miners’ season with a three-set sweep. On day two, the Lady Toppers faced off against UTSA who was looking to avenge last season’s championship loss. WKU prevailed, however, winning its fourth-straight decision over the Roadrunners. All five meeting in program history against UTSA have now been determined in four sets.
For the second-consecutive season, the WKU squad faced the tournament host in the championship match as the Lady Toppers faced off against sixth-seeded Rice. Rachel Anderson registered 31 kills in the five-set battle, becoming the first Lady Topper with 30 or more kills in a match since Jordyn Skinner in 2011. Alyssa Cavanaugh had a career day as well, tallying 24 kills. Jessica Lucas picked up her 13th double double of the season with a career best 63 assists and 14 digs. Georgia O’Connell (24) and Kaelin Grimes (14) led the defensive charge with 38 digs between the pair of seniors.
Anderson was tabbed the C-USA Tournament MVP after a dominant weekend. Cavanaugh and O’Connell each earned spots on the C-USA All-Tournament Team.
C-USA AWARDS SEASON
Following a season for the record books, the Lady Topper squad was rewarded with numerous awards. On the first day of awards, five Lady Toppers earned All-Conference status including Lucas, Cavanaugh and Anderson all landing on the first team. O’Connell and Sydney Engle were selected to the second team.
A day after becoming a three-time All-C-USA first-team honoree, Lucas was named the league’s Setter of the Year again. Another three-time first-team All-Conference selection, Cavanaugh, was tabbed the Conference USA Player of the Year. Travis Hudson also repeated as the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
The following day, Lucas became one of just two C-USA volleyball players to earn awards on all three days as she was named to the C-USA All-Academic Team. Lucas is an exercise science, pre-physical therapy major.
On WKU’s Senior Night at Diddle Arena, the Lady Toppers swept their fifth-straight opponent with a 3-0 victory over the North Texas Mean Green. WKU was the only team in conference play to beat North Texas in three sets in 2016.
The Lady Toppers fought off five-straight set points in the opening frame behind the serve of freshman Emma Kowalkowski and 12 Cavanaugh kills to win the set 29-27. Cavanaugh finished with 18 kills in the match while O’Connell led the defense with 14 digs and her 100th career ace, which secured the first-set win.
WKU’s win over North Texas would add even more impressive numbers to its resume as the Lady Toppers C-USA regular season play undefeated at 14-0. It marked the fifth time that the program accomplished the feat (1991, 4-0; 2002, 14-0; 2005, 12-0; 2012, 15-0).
An undefeated regular season has been accomplished just three times in C-USA history. Tulsa did it most recently in 2010 going 20-0. Prior to that, Louisville accomplished the unbeaten season in 2004 at 13-0 and back in 1995 at 12-0. WKU joined the 2004 Louisville squad as the only teams to go undefeated in regular-season play and win the league tournament as well.
REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONS
WKU Volleyball clinched the 2016 Conference USA regular season championship with its sweep of Rice. The conference championship marks the third time in the three years that WKU has been a member of the league. The Lady Toppers also closed out their time in the Sun Belt by winning the regular season championship the final three seasons as members. Altogether, the Red and White have won six-straight regular season conference championships.
With the regular-season title claimed, WKU in now the sixth team in C-USA history to three-peat as regular season champions. The win over North Texas made the Lady Toppers just the second team to three-peat as regular season conference champions including a perfect season.
As WKU Volleyball continues to hold strong in the rankings, it has also climbed in the RPI ratings, up to No. 14. The Lady Toppers currently own 12 wins over top-100 ranked teams this season with their top three wins coming over No. 38 Cincinnati, No. 39 Pittsburgh and No. 52 Lipscomb. WKU’s lone loss at full strength came to No. 15 Michigan State (15 RPI).
VOLLEYBALLMAG.COM MID-MAJOR POLL
Earlier this season, the Lady Toppers were voted into the top spot of VolleyballMag.com’s Mid-Major Poll for back-to-back weeks, the first time the program had achieved the feat. The Lady Toppers sat atop the standings for a third week in the following rankings, sharing the top spot with BYU. In the past two rankings, WKU has dropped back to second behind BYU. A panel of coaches representing 10 different conferences across the country serve at the voters.
WKU opened the season at No. 5 in the weekly Mid-Major poll back on August 23. For the next six weeks, the Lady Toppers remained at fourth or fifth in the VolleyballMag.com rankings before breaking into the top three on Oct. 11, following the squad’s win at Southern Miss. The Red and White came in at No. 2 for the next two polls, which followed WKU victories over Lipscomb, UTSA and three other Conference USA squads.
Two days after WKU Volleyball won its 15th-consecutive match of the 2016 season, the Lady Toppers were voted No. 1, surpassing previously top-ranked San Diego, which fell to the third spot. Also ranking in the top five of the most recent Mid-Major Poll is BYU in first, Creighton (third), Hawai’i (fourth) and Dayton (fifth).
BACK IN THE POLLS
After a week out of the top-25 rankings, the Lady Toppers have been in the rankings the past four weeks. The Lady Toppers reentered at No. 23 for its highest rating since the Sept. 5 poll. The following poll, on Oct. 31, put WKU at No. 21, its best rating since the first week of voting. In the four most recent polls, WKU was rated No. 20 in the country.
For the 16th-consecutive season, WKU Volleyball has registered 20 wins in a season. Travis Hudson has led WKU to 17 20-win seasons during his 22 seasons at the helm of the program. WKU has extended its streak of 25-win seasons to 16 as well, which ranks as a tie for the second-best active streak in NCAA Volleyball.
LEADING THE LEAGUE
WKU sports three athletes leading C-USA volleyball in four statistical categories as Lucas leads the league in assists per set (11.58), Engle owns 48 total aces and Cavanaugh leads in both points (537.0) and total kills (499) following the conference tournament.
As a team, the Lady Toppers lead Conference USA in seven categories including assists per set (13.75), hitting percentage (.311), kills per set (14.53), winning percentage (.938), opponent hitting percentage (.173), team assists (1,567) and team kills (1,656). Four of those figures also rank in the top 10 across the nation.
FIRST SET DOMINANCE
With 32 matches of the 2016 season in the books, the Lady Toppers have lost just five times the first set of a match. WKU moved to an impressive mark of 27-5 in the opening frame entering the NCAA Tournament.
CONFERENCE USA ACCOLADES
With all of the 2016 weekly Conference USA awards handed out, WKU saw 12 accolades presented to a Lady Topper. In the opening week of honors, Cavanaugh was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week while Lucas earned a Setter of the Week nod, the duo repeated the feat in the awards given on October 10.
In the five weeks in between, Lucas was tabbed the C-USA Setter of the Week four more times to up her career number to 11 weekly honors. Lucas is the first student-athlete in C-USA volleyball history to earn five weekly awards of any sort during the first six weeks of a season in conference history. The junior also now owns the single-season record across all four weekly honors with seven weekly awards following her most recent nod on Oct. 31.
Anderson and O’Connell have also been named Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively. Anderson also picked up a second Offensive Player of the Week laurel, while Lucas earned an award the same week to mark four weeks that multiple Lady Toppers were honored in 2016.
HOME CONFERENCE WIN STREAK
Since joining C-USA, WKU has not lost a home match to a league opponent, improving to a 23-0 mark with its victory over North Texas. The streak extends back to 2011 when counting both C-USA and Sun Belt opponents for 45-consecutive home conference wins. Of those victories, 36 have been straight-set sweeps while only two matches have last the full five sets.
1,000 CAREER KILLS
In WKU’s five-set victory at Pitt, junior outside hitter Cavanaugh registered her 1,000th career kill. Entering the match, Cavanaugh needed 17 kills to achieve the feat, and she delivered, registering her 17th and 18th kills in the decisive fifth set.
Several milestones have been achieved during the 2016 season. In his 22nd season at his alma mater, head coach Hudson owns a career record of 559-198, after achieving the 550-win mark. Hudson also owns a combined 259-61 record in Sun Belt and Conference USA play. Additionally, the Lady Toppers have registered a total of 351 victories in the E.A. Diddle Arena.
The 2016 WKU Volleyball season is being presented by the United States Marines. This season, the Marines and WKU Athletics are working together to promote the outstanding athletic and academic achievements of our female student-athletes. The Marines are proud to work with and support these future leaders of America.
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.