Denver, Colo. — The Western Kentucky University volleyball team’s bid for a third Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship fell short as the Lady Toppers dropped a three-game decision (32-34, 32-34, 20-30) to top-seeded Middle Tennessee Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Gymnasium.
The loss dropped the Lady Toppers to 27-8 on the year, while the Blue Raiders improved to 32-2. WKU will now wait until next Sunday (Nov. 25) to see if its resume is good enough to earn at at-large bid to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Megan Argabright led the Lady Toppers with a match-high 21 kills, while Aquila Orr chipped in 11. Those two players represented the Lady Toppers on the all-tournament team. Julia Noe finished with seven kills, 43 assists and 10 digs. Kelly Hofmeyer led the defense with a match-best 11 digs.
The first two games of the match went to extra points, with the Lady Toppers finding themselves with a game point in each contest.
The opening game was tied 23 teams and saw 11 lead changes. Argabright gave the Lady Toppers their first game point when a kill made it 29-28, but Izabella Kozon kept MTSU alive with a kills, tying the contest at 29-29. After trading points, the Blue Raiders were able to take a 31-30 lead on a WKU attack error, but a kill by Orr and a block from Brittany Bowen and Jenna Gideon moved the Lady Toppers back in front 32-31. A kill by Ashley Mead again tied the score at 32-32, and back-to-back Lady Topper attack errors gave Middle Tennessee the opening-game victory.
WKU jumped out to an early 11-7 lead in game two, and used a 3-0 spurt later in the game to open up a 23-18 lead on a Gideon kill. The Lady Toppers led 26-22 after a Blue Raider attack error, but a kill from Ashley Asberry sparked a 4-0 run as MTSU tied things up at 26-26. WKU bounced back in front, and took a 29-27 lead on a kill from Argabright, but a service error followed by a Middle Tennessee block tied the game at 29-29. After trading points, the Lady Toppers held a 32-31 lead after a block by Orr and Gideon. However, a kill by Mead started a 3-0 Blue Raider run as they picked up a second 34-32 win to take a two-game lead in the match.
Despite dropping the first two games, the Lady Toppers recorded over 20 kills in each contest and posted a kill total that MTSU in both games.
The Blue Raiders committed just one attack error in game three as they hit .433 as a team to close out the match. After swapping the lead in the early points, MTSU jumped out to a 15-9 lead on a Kozon kill. WKU would get no closer than four points the rest of the way as Middle used a 5-0 run late to open up a double-figure lead en route to the 30-20 win.