Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University volleyball team was on the brink of defeat Friday night as they trailed 11-6 to North Texas in game five, but the Lady Toppers closed the match with a 9-1 run to escape Diddle Arena with a 3-2 victory (30-19, 30-25, 28-30, 27-30, 15-12) victory over the Mean Green.
The win ran WKU’s season-long winning streak to six matches as it improved to 14-3 overall and 3-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. UNT fell to 5-12 and 1-2 in the league.
The Lady Toppers posted a season-high 89 kills — 41 more than North Texas — but still found themselves in a battle as the Mean Green won a pair of close games in the third and fourth sets to force a decisive game five.
UNT jumped out early in the final game, taking an 8-3 lead on a Catherine Coffey kill, and holding a 11-6 lead following a kill from Kelly Prokof. A kill from Julia Noe got WKU back on track as it scored the next six points to take a 12-11 lead thanks to a pair of Lyndsey Gould service aces, two Megan Argabright kills, and another kill from Noe. After a kill by Brooke Engel tied the game at 12-12, Abbie Siljendahl put down a kill to again move the Lady Toppers in front. After a Mean Green ball-handling error brought things to match point, Argabright put down her fifth kill of the final game to give WKU the victory.
Argabright finished the night with a career-high 29 kills — just two shy of the Lady Topper single-match record. Noe also etched her name in the WKU record books as she became just the ninth Lady Topper to ever record a triple-double as she finished the night with 12 kills, 16 digs and a career-high 71 assists. Jenna Gideon added 17 kills, while Aquila Orr finished with 14 kills and a match-best .609 hitting percentage. Siljendahl added a career-best 11 kills.
Kelly Hofmeyer led the defense with a season-high 32 digs to move over the 1,000 for her Lady Topper career.
Things appeared to be going smoothly for WKU through the first two games as it recorded 22 kills as a team in each of the first two contests. After an 11-point win in the opener, the Lady Toppers hit a match-best .486 as a team in game two as they led wire-to-wire en route to a 30-25 win.
WKU was able to jump out to an early five-point lead in game three, only to see the Mean Green creep back and use a 5-1 run midway through the contest to grab a 19-16 lead on a Heather Maddox service ace. A kill from Noe sparked a 7-0 Lady Topper run as they regained a 23-19 lead. Again North Texas fought back, evening things up a 26-26. A kill from Gideon a few points later put WKU up 28-26, but a Lady Topper service error, followed by a Maddox ace and an Engel kill kept UNT alive with a 30-28 victory.
The Mean Green carried that momentum into game four where they opened up an early 11-7 lead. It was the Lady Toppers that used a mid-game run to pull out to a 16-13 lead. UNT regrouped to come back to take a 23-20 lead, but WKU pulled even four more times down the stretch — the last coming at 26-26. However, Engel posted a pair of service aces to start a 4-1 run as the Mean Green forced the fifth game with a three-point victory.
WKU has now won 12 consecutive Sun Belt Conference home openers, and will look to extend its season-long winning streak at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday when it hosts Denver at E.A. Diddle Arena.