Miami, Fla. — The Western Kentucky University volleyball team picked up a key Sun Belt Conference road victory Friday evening as it defeated Florida International 3-1 (30-26, 23-30, 30-26, 30-24) at Pharmed Arena.
The win kept the Lady Toppers perfect in Sun Belt Conference play at 7-0, and improved them to 18-4 overall on the season. The Golden Panthers fell to 11-5 and 6-3 in the conference.
Neither club was in their normal offensive rhythm as WKU hit .201 for the match, while holding the Panthers to a .180 team hitting percentage, limiting FIU to just 13 kills and a -.023 hitting percentage in the opening game. In that contest, the teams were tied seven times before a 6-2 Lady Topper run opened up a 22-18 lead following a block by Jenna Gideon and Abbie Siljendahl. WKU would lead the rest of the contest , pulling out to a 28-21 lead after a Brittany Bowen kill. A Yarimar Rosa kill sparked a 5-1 Golden Panther run as they pulled within three at 29-26. Following a timeout by WKU, Megan Argabright put down a kill for the final point as the Lady Toppers picked up a four-point win in the opener.
FIU responded by hitting a match-best .400 in the second game as it never trailed and led by as many as five points midway through the contest. Despite posting 14 kills, the Lady Toppers committed nine attack errors in game two as the Golden Panthers were able to even the match at 1-1 with a 30-23 victory.
After Rosa put down a kill to open game three, the Lady Toppers scored the next two points and would not trail the rest of the way. WKU could not build on a two-point lead for much of the game , but did use a spurt of three unanswered points to pull out to an 18-13 lead. The Panthers came right back with a 7-2 run of its own to tie the game at 20-20, then again at 21-21 after the clubs swapped points. An FIU service error sparked a 5-1 WKU run as it was able to stretch its lead back to 26-22, and held on for another 30-26 win.
That momentum carried over into the fourth game as the Lady Toppers stormed out to a 7-2 lead and never looked back. The lead grew to seven at 19-12 after one of Florida International’s nine attack errors in the game as WKU was able to outscore the Panthers down the stretch to close out the match with a 30-24 victory in game four.
Gideon led the Lady Toppers with 15 kills and a match-best .440 hitting percentage, while Argabright added 13 kills and hit .400. Bowen also finished in double figures with 13 kills. Kelly Hofmeyer paced the defense with a match-best 16 digs, and Julia Noe added 14 digs to go along with 43 assists.
Rosa finished with a match-best 21 kills for the Golden Panthers.
WKU will conclude the weekend roadswing through south Florida on Saturday as it faces Florida Atlantic at 1 p.m. (CDT).