OXFORD, Ohio – With its third win in less than 24 hours, WKU Volleyball took home
the Miami (OH) Best Western Sycamore Inn Invitational crown as the Lady Toppers
swept Northern Arizona to close opening weekend play. The Lady Toppers saw Rachel
Anderson lead the charge offensively with 16 kills while Emma Kowalkowski racked up
a career-high 19 digs defensively.
Sydney Engle took home Tournament MVP honors while Anderson and Jessica Lucas were
also named to the weekend All-Tournament Team.
“This was a great opening weekend showing by our kids,” head coach Travis Hudson
stated. “We have a lot to work on as we move forward but it’s nice to find a way to
start the season 3-0.”
WKU’s weekend sweep marks the third-straight season the Lady Toppers have opened the
year at 3-0. Hudson has now seen 10 of his 23 teams complete the feat. The only
other time a WKU squad has started the year 3-0 was in the program’s second year,
1982, under Charlie Daniel.
The Lady Toppers wasted no time getting things going Saturday morning and shot out
to a 16-5 lead in the first set of the day over Northern Arizona. Up 18-8, WKU had
posted 13 kills on 18 attacks without an error for a .722 hitting percentage before
finishing the set at a .531 clip. Eight different Lady Toppers registered a kill in
the frame for a collective 19 strikes. NAU tried to fight back but the Red and White
closed the first set with a 25-16 final score.
Things looked complete different in the second frame of action as neither side ever
strung together more than three-straight points. Northern Arizona led by two as late
as 16-14 and hit 20 first but the Lady Toppers finished strong, booking six of the
final eight points in the set. Anderson paced the Red and White with five kills for
the second-straight frame as WKU took a 2-0 lead in the match with the 25-22
Action in the final set opened with both teams trading points until Northern Arizona
finally took a slim 7-5 lead over WKU but the Lady Toppers fired back, claiming the
next three points capped by a Sophia Cerino service ace. The sides once again traded
points to the 11-11 stage when Hudson’s squad separated itself for good. Anderson
finished with six of the Lady Toppers’ 17 kills in the frame as WKU clinched the
sweep with a 25-21 third-set win.
For the second-consecutive match, Anderson posted double-digit kills and led the
team in that column. The junior notched a season-high 16 strikes on 34 swings for a
.324 hitting percentage while also contributing three blocks and three digs. Alyssa
Cavanaugh recorded eight kills to go along with four digs.
Engle finished the day with seven kills on 17 swings for a .353
hitting percentage in addition to five digs and a pair of assists.
Facilitating the offense to a .304 hitting percentage, Lucas tallied 37 assists
across the morning sweep. The senior added nine digs, five kills, two blocks and an
ace to fill the stat sheet. Through three matches, Lucas is averaging a double
double at 35.3 assists/match and 10 digs/match.
Kowalkowski and Lucas led the team in digs with 19 and nine, respectively, while 10
different Lady Toppers tallied at least one.
WKU Volleyball is in action again Tuesday night for its home opener against
Tennessee State at 6 p.m. CT from Diddle Arena. TSU is coming off of a 17-16 2016
campaign. The Lady Toppers own a 20-1 advantage in the all-time series.
With the home opener up next, volleyball season tickets are available online at
WKUSports.com or by calling the WKU ticket office at 1-800-5-BIGRED. Season ticket
holders will receive 12 general admission tickets with the Flexible Ticket Package
that can be used to attend the home games of his or her choice. This plan allows the
flexibility to choose which volleyball games the buyer wants to attend and the
number of tickets used for each game. Season ticket holders also gain exclusive
access to pre-game chalk talks with Hudson, who enters his 23rd season at the helm
of WKU volleyball.
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.