BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – For the second-consecutive weekend, WKU Volleyball claimed its
home tournament title after posting a 2-1 weekend record and owning the best set
record percentage between the field’s three tied teams. Sophia Cerino earned her
first-ever All-Tournament Team nod with MVP recognition while Rachel Anderson landed
on the All-Tournament Team as well. WKU closed weekend action with a five-set win
over NIU to improve to 8-5 on the season.
“Diddle magic,” head coach Travis Hudson said when asked about the back-to-back
titles giving the team confidence. “I’m going to keep calling it Diddle magic. It’s
been anything but pretty for the last couple of weeks, but somehow, someway you look
up and we’ve won both tournaments against two real quality fields and we’re sitting
at 8-5 after coming in 3-4 before the tournaments; so I’m really proud of this crew
and we’ve got to try to build and be more consistent as we move into conference
WKU opened the day with a 25-19 first set victory after the squad worked at a .471
clip but NIU responded back and took the next two sets. The Huskies claimed the
second frame by a 25-17 margin before taking a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-22
third set win.
“I saw a lot of bad things out of our team to get us in a 2-1 hole, but forget about
where we ended up, when you end up down 2-1 to a team that plays off emotion, like
Northern Illinois does, that is a hard thing to do, to right the ship and get
yourself back in it,” head coach Travis Hudson opened. “As frustrated as I am with
how we ended up there, I’m equally pleased with the fact that we fought back and
found a way to win the match.”
Now in a must-win situation, the Red and White responded. The fourth set saw just
two ties and zero lead changes after WKU jumped ahead to a 4-0 advantage. With the
lead at just two (13-11), the Lady Toppers strung together five-straight points to
open up an 18-11 lead and ultimately claim a 25-18 victory to force a fifth frame.
In the deciding set, Hudson’s squad again jumped out to a 4-0 lead to force an NIU
stoppage. The Huskies called for their final timeout trailing WKU 9-4 before pulling
back within three at 12-9 late in the set. However, Cerino found the floor with
three straight kills to close out the frame and secure WKU’s second five-set match
in as many weeks.
“We really just had to grind during those last two sets,” Cerino shared. “We just
had to work really hard to do our job and to be consistent.”
Cerino led the way for WKU with a career-high 19 kills against just three errors for
a .485 hitting percentage. The junior added an ace and three block assists to her
“I waited two years for this,” Cerino said of the MVP honor. “I’ve worked hard every
day and the team has been awesome. We all push each other to get better every single
day and I feel like this is possible because of them. I’m so proud of everybody and
I thought everybody played well and I’m so proud that we were able to pull it out.”
Joining Cerino in double-digit kills were Rachel Anderson (14) and Katie Isenbarger
After making her first start of the season at libero, Payton Frederick racked up a
team-best 20 digs – a new personal best. Also notching double-digit digs were Hallie
Shelton (14) and Emma Kowalkowski (13).
Isenbarger matched Cerino’s three blocks for the team lead. Taylor Bebout and Mary
Martin shared setting duties with Bebout recording 35 and Martin adding 13.
Katie Shunk made her first appearance in the front row as a Lady Topper in the
outing and registered five kills on 15 swings for a .267 clip.
With its second-consecutive tournament title under its belt, WKU Volleyball will
remain on The Hill for its next three matches with [RV] Cincinnati visiting The Hill
Tuesday before Middle Tennessee and Charlotte come in over the weekend. First serve
on Tuesday night is slated for 6 p.m. CT.
* The Lady Toppers now lead the all-time series against Northern Illinois
5-1. WKU has claimed its last five meetings with the Huskies.
* Run of the day: A 5-0 stretch in favor of the Tops in set four against
Northern Illinois. With a slim 13-11 lead, WKU pieced together a 5-0 run to open up
an 18-11 advantage in the set to push the match to a decisive fifth set and claim
the final decision.
* In her first start at libero, Payton Frederick racked up 20 digs. The last
Lady Topper to register 20+ digs in a match was Emma Kowalkowski (26) on Sept. 7
against Notre Dame. Prior to that, the feat hadn’t been achieved since Sydney Engle
collected 20 at Miami (OH) on Aug. 25, 2017.
* Sophia Cerino posted a career-best 19 digs to lead WKU in the category for
the second time this season.
* Sophia Cerino earned Tournament MVP honors while Rachel Anderson also
landed on the All-Tournament Team.