EL PASO, Texas – WKU head coach Travis Hudson registered his 550th career victory as the Lady Toppers swept UTEP Friday night in El Paso. The Red and White utilized a balanced offensive attack and a near triple-double performance by Jessica Lucas to open their four-match road streak with the victory. The victory extends the Lady Topper win streak to 12-consecutive matches.
With the win over UTEP, WKU improves to 21-2 on the season including an 8-0 mark in Conference USA action. The Miners dropped to 4-17 with the loss and 2-6 in C-USA.
“I’m extremely proud of the way our kids played tonight against a tough UTEP squad,” shared Hudson. “We withstood a first-set challenge and played much better as the match wore on.”
First-set action from El Paso did not disappoint as extra volleyball would be needed to determine the winner. The Lady Toppers trailed for much of the frame as the hosts went on an early six-point run before WKU knotted the frame at 19-19 and forced a UTEP stoppage. Eventually, a kill by Alyssa Cavanaugh gave WKU its first set-point opportunity of the night at 24-22, but the Miners would battle back before the Red and White claimed the eventual 29-27 first-set victory. Cavanaugh turned in six kills in the opening frame while the Lady Toppers worked at a .298 clip as a team.
UTEP picked up the first point in set two but then the Lady Toppers went to work, claiming seven of the next nine points to force a Miner timeout at 7-3. Sydney Engle registered a kill to put the Lady Toppers up 10-4 before stepping back to the service line. In six-consecutive Engle serves, the junior produced a trio of aces and helped the Red and White to a 15-4 lead. The Lady Toppers opened up an 18-6 advantage forcing a UTEP timeout and went on to claim eight of the next 12 points for a 25-10 second-set victory. WKU worked efficiently, hitting at a .611 clip and tallying just one attack error on 18 swings while 12 went down for kills. UTEP was limited to a .053 hitting rate and just five kills in the frame.
After a few ties early on in the third and final set of action, the Lady Toppers opened up an 11-6 lead and never looked back. WKU led by seven multiple times including the final margin of 25-18. The Red and White worked at a .229 offensive clip in the frame while registering 15 kills opposed to just eight by the Miners. The Lady Topper defense held the hosts to a -.057 hitting percentage in the final set from Memorial Gym.
Lucas finished the evening with 30 assists, nine kills, nine digs, three block assists and a team-leading .571 hitting percentage.
On the offensive side of the net, Cavanaugh led the way for WKU with a match-high 12 kills while Rachel Anderson was right behind her with 10 of her own. The match marked the 21st double-digit kill outing for Cavanaugh on the year and 15th for Anderson. Engle finished with six kills while Amara Listenbee contributed four and Taylor Dellinger chipped in three.
Georgia O’Connell produced the 19th double-digit dig outing of her senior campaign with a 10-dig effort against UTEP. Both Lucas and Emma Kowalkowski added nine digs each in the outing.
As a team, WKU out-blocked the Miners 9-2 with all of the match’s blocks coming from block assists. Listenbee led the Lady Toppers with a six-block effort while Engle added four. Lucas and Anderson tallied three apiece while Cavanaugh rounded out the category with a pair of stops.
Behind the line, Engle finished with three service aces for her fifth match of the season. Kowalkowski and Kaelin Grimes each contributed an ace as well.
WKU Volleyball remains on the road and will close weekend action in San Antonio on Sunday with a tilt at UTSA. The match’s opening serve is slated for 12:30 p.m. CT. Entering the weekend, UTSA was ranked third in the league standings at 5-1 while WKU owned the top spot.
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.