COLUMBUS, Ohio – In its first opportunity to upset a top-25 team since 2015, WKU
Volleyball did just that as the Lady Toppers stormed St. John Arena and rolled the
No. 25 Ohio State Buckeyes for the program’s first sweep of a top-25 opponent to
open weekend play. Just a few hours later, the Red and White claimed their second
victory of the day by a 3-1 margin over Dayton following another strong showing to
improve to 12-2 on the season.
WKU hit a combined .388 as a team across the day as Rachel Anderson posted 30 kills
on the first day of action to lead the Lady Toppers to their eight-straight victory.
Entering the Buckeye Invitational four kills shy of 1,500 career tallies, Alyssa
Cavanaugh achieved the feat in the first set of play from Columbus. On her fourth
swing of the match, Cavanaugh put home the strike to become just the fourth player
in Lady Topper history to record at least 1,500 kills during their career. After
both of the day’s matches, the senior owns 29 kills on the weekend.
“I’m really proud of our effort today,” head coach Travis Hudson shared of the
team’s victories. “We played two high-quality teams that we have a lot of respect
for in Ohio State and Dayton. In that second match, we won with a strong defensive
performance after our offense was our strength against Ohio State in the first
MATCH 1: [RV] WKU 3, NO. 25 OHIO STATE 0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-16)
With the lone tie of the match’s first set coming at 1-1 after WKU got on the board
first, the Lady Toppers worked ahead to an early 9-5 lead they would not relinquish.
At one point, WKU rattled off eight-straight points to put the set out of the
Buckeyes’ reach. Hudson’s squad found the floor with 15 collective kills before a
Lady Topper attack error was recorded. The Red and White hit a scorching .680 in the
frame with 18 kills on 25 attacks against just one error to take the set 25-17 over
the hosts. WKU posted a strong defensive effort as well, notching 11 digs in the
frame while registering a 76% sideout rating. Anderson posted seven kills in the
day’s opening set on eight swings.
No. 25 Ohio State opened the second set with a 4-3 lead but a Taylor Dellinger kill
knotted the frame at 4-4 and the Lady Toppers would lead the rest of the way. The
Buckeyes battled to stay within a point as late as 7-6 before WKU used a 5-1 run to
force an Ohio State timeout with a 12-7 lead. As the margin grew to four, Ohio State
used its second stoppage trailing 22-18 late in the frame but the Lady Toppers
tallied two kills and their second block of the set to shut the door. WKU hit .393
in the second set of play as Cavanaugh notched five more kills in the frame. The
Lady Toppers posted another 76% sideout rate to take a 2-0 lead in the match after
claiming set two in a 25-20 fashion.
Third set action from WKU’s opening match of the Buckeye Invitational saw the Lady
Toppers lead from start to finish, jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead off the serve of
Hallie Shelton. The Red and White opened the third set with seven kills before
putting an attack error in the books to open up a 13-8 advantage in the decisive
frame. Ohio State used its final stoppage trailing 17-11 but WKU strung together a
late 7-3 run to claim the set and sweep at 25-16.
Anderson led the high-powered WKU offense with 12 kills on 21 swings for a .429
hitting clip, which Cavanaugh matched the attack rate with 11 kills and 21 attacks.
Every Lady Topper with an attack in the match hit .429 or better. Jessica Lucas and
Sydney Engle each added .556 clips (5-0-9) while Dellinger worked at a .571 rate and
finished with a season-best nine kills.
Lucas finished with 34 assists, facilitating the WKU offense to a stellar .506
hitting percentage. The Seymour, Ind., native chipped in five kills to go along with
a team-best seven digs.
Behind the service line, Emma Kowalkowski found a groove and set a new season high
with five aces in the match, including three straight in the first set. The
sophomore libero also recorded five digs and four assists.
MATCH 2: [RV] WKU 3, DAYTON 1 (25-12, 25-18, 21-25, 25-18)
Owning the serve to open play against Dayton, WKU opened up a quick 11-0 lead off
the hand of Shelton for the squad’s most consecutive points on the season. The
Flyers got on the scoreboard only after a service error. WKU owned as large as a
14-point lead in the set, coming at 22-8 before closing the frame out with a 25-12
victory. The Red and White used a .444 offensive clip while Dayton was in the red
with a -.107 rate. Cavanaugh tallied seven kills in the frame to get things rolling
while the Lady Toppers added four team blocks as well.
Dayton hung around much longer in the set frame of action, staying within a single
strike as late as the 14-13 point, but a four-tally WKU run put set two out of reach
again as the Lady Toppers won the frame 25-18. Cavanaugh tallied four more kills in
the set while Anderson, Engle and Dellinger each chipped in three. WKU worked at a
.433 clip in the second stanza while Dayton worked its way back into the black with
a .188 rate. The second set victory marked the Lady Toppers’ 12th-straight win of a
set, dating back to the Pittsburgh match.
The Flyers refused to leave empty handed and ultimately claimed the third set
between the squads in a 25-21 fashion, ending WKU’s string of sets won at 12.
Anderson registered seven kills in the set in addition to teaming up with Lucas and
Engle for a pair of block assists.
With a 2-1 lead in the match, WKU came back strong in the fourth frame that saw 10
ties and a lead change. Dayton led early in the set, but the Lady Toppers were the
first to 10 and after trading a few points, took the lead for good on an Anderson
kill at 13-12. A few points later, Anderson gave the Red and White their largest
lead of the set at 16-13 after a service ace. Dayton called for stops at that point
and again trailing 19-15 but an 8-3 run late by the Lady Toppers sealed the deal as
WKU claimed the match with a 25-18 win in set four.
Anderson and Cavanaugh combined for 36 kills with an even 18 apiece, the most
combined kills by a Lady Toppers duo since the pair’s 55 strikes in the 2016 C-USA
Tournament Championship match. Dellinger recorded eight kills, Engle added seven and
Amara Listenbee posted five.
WKU Volleyball hit at a .321 collective rate in the day’s second match and saw Lucas
dish out 48 assists for a new season high. The senior setter added 10 digs for her
fourth double-double showing of the season.
Kowalkowski led the WKU defense with 13 digs while Shelton and Darby Music also had
double figures with 10 each.
At the net, WKU finished with double-digit blocks for the fourth time in the last
six matches with 11 to Dayton’s nine. Anderson accounted for five stops while Lucas
added four with Listenbee, Engle and Dellinger all chipping in three.
WKU will take on Northern Illinois Saturday at noon CT from Bexley, Ohio’s Capital
University. A victory would mark the Lady Topper’s third tournament sweep across the
first four weeks of the 2017 campaign.
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.