BEXLEY, Ohio – Taking care of business for the ninth-straight match, WKU Volleyball
also claimed its third weekend tournament title across the first four weeks of 2017
action by sweeping Northern Illinois on Saturday at the Buckeye Invitational. The
Lady Toppers climbed to 13-2 on the season by topping their sixth opponent on the
year that appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Rachel Anderson was named the Buckeye Invitational MVP after posting a team-best 43
kills on a .479 attack rate. Alyssa Cavanaugh (41 kills, .364%) and Jessica Lucas
(12.0 assists/set, 23 digs) joined their fellow All-American on the weekend’s
“This was a great way to finish off the weekend,” head coach Travis Hudson shared.
“Northern Illinois plays the game very hard and we had to match that effort level to
be successful today. I’m very proud of the way our kids competed this weekend.”
On day two of the Buckeye Invitational, WKU came out firing on all cylinders against
Northern Illinois. The Lady Toppers struck quick and often in set one, jumping out
to a 4-0 lead before NIU got on the board. WKU went on to make a run for a 7-1 lead
to force a timeout before an 8-2 run gave the Lady Toppers a double-digit lead. With
as large as a 16-point lead in the frame at one point, WKU claimed the first set in
a 25-12 decision. The Red and White hit .389 as a team in the frame while holding
the Huskies to a .034 rate.
Northern Illinois came out strong in set two and owned a 5-1 lead over WKU early on.
A three-point run pushed NIU’s advantage to 11-8 over WKU but the Lady Toppers
pushed through down the stretch claiming the lead for good following a pair of
Hallie Shelton service aces. The Red and White tallied 10 of the frame’s final 14
points for a 25-20 victory and a 2-0 lead entering the break. WKU hit a match-best
.464 in the frame, connecting on 16-of-28 attacks for kills. Behind the service
line, the Lady Toppers notched four of their six aces of the match in set two,
including two off the hand of Anderson.
Third set action saw five ties and one lead change after the Huskies were the first
on the board. The final tie of the set came at the 16-16 mark before Anderson
notched her 13th kill of the match to give WKU the lead for good. After NIU pulled
back within one at 18-17, the Lady Toppers went on a five-point run before Cavanaugh
gave WKU match point with a kill and Sydney Engle closed the book with an ace for
the 25-18 victory.
The straight-set victory is the ninth sweep for the Lady Toppers on the season and
the fourth in the squad’s last five matches. Across WKU’s last 17 sets of action,
the Red and White have dropped just one frame (vs. Dayton).
Anderson led the WKU offensive attack with 13 kills and a .500 hitting percentage
while Cavanaugh was right behind her with 12 kills on 26 swings for a .385 rate from
the pin. Engle finished just two kills shy of a double double, filling the stat
sheet with eight kills, 10 digs, three blocks, two assists and an ace.
Taylor Dellinger added seven kills on a .312 attack efficiency while Kayland Jackson
and Sophia Cerino each chipped in three kills.
WKU worked at a .375 collective offense rate and registered a combined .384 hitting
percentage across the three weekend matches. Lucas facilitated the offense with a
three-set high 38 assists against Northern Illinois. The senior also had two kills,
six digs, two blocks and an ace.
Two Lady Toppers notched double-digit dig efforts in Engle and Emma Kowalkowski,
both recording 10. Darby Music added four.
At the net, WKU continued to put up its big block, registering nine stuffs on the
day as Amara Listenbee and Engle led the way with three each. Anderson, Cavanaugh,
Jackson and Lucas each contributed a pair of blocks.
Next up for the WKU Volleyball unit is Conference USA action as the Lady Toppers
will hit the road for Boca Raton, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., to take on Florida
Atlantic and Charlotte during the opening weekend of league play. Action will kick
off Friday from the Sunshine State with a 6 p.m. CT tilt. WKU will face off against
the 49ers on Sunday in a noon CT contest.
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.