Miami, Fla. — The No. 6 seed Lady Toppers (25-9) swept rival Middle Tennessee (25-17, 25-13, 25-21) to earn a spot in the 2008 Sun Belt Conference Championship match tomorrow against No.4 seed New Orleans. Finishing with a .442 hitting percentage, the Lady Toppers knocked down 42 kills en route to their stunning upset over No. 2 seed Middle Tennessee.
"Middle Tennessee has been the team to beat in our league the past few years," head coach Travis Hudson said. "We are really playing well and we went out tonight and executed and that was the difference in the match."
In the first set, the Lady Toppers struck first and never trailed in the set outscoring the Blue Raiders by eight. The Lady Toppers recorded 14 kills in the set and hit .500 behind junior Abbie Siljendahl and senior Julia Noe. Both Lady Toppers hit .667 in the set and five Lady Toppers picked up at least two kills.
Middle Tennessee got off to a fast start in set two going up 2-0 before the Lady Toppers were able to get on the board. Down by two points early, the Lady Toppers tied the match up at four after a kill by junior Brittany Bowen and an ace by sophomore Kelly Potts. The Lady Toppers and Blue Raiders battled through the next few points before the Lady Toppers were able to find a rythum and extend their lead to as much as 11 points midway through the set. With the Lady Toppers leading 20-9, WKU took a two set lead over the Blue Raiders as Middle Tennessee recorded four errors, Potts added another ace and another Siljendahl posted another kill. The Lady Toppers were as dominate on offense in the second set as they were the first set posting 12 more kills and hitting .435. Middle Tennessee only finished with a .037 hitting percentage in the set after posting nine kills and eight errors.
In the final set, it was WKU who took an early 2-0 lead after a kill by Noe and an ace by junior Lindsey Gould. Although the Lady Toppers and Blue Raiders stayed tied throughout much of the set, WKU was able to pull away from Middle Tennessee with the score tied at eight. From there, the Lady Toppers went on a scoring run that would seal the deal for WKU. WKU racked up 16 kills in the set to Middle Tennessee's 12 while also recording four more digs. Siljendahl had another impressive set as she led the Lady Toppers with five kills and zero errors for a .714 hitting percentage.
The Lady Toppers were led in the match by Siljendahl who was perfect tallying nine kills and zero errors for a .750 hitting percentage. Argabright also posted nine kills in the match while Noe led the team in assists with 33. On defense, junior Lindsey Gould posted eight digs and senior Kelly Hofmeyer added six.
As a team, WKU posted 38 assists, 24 digs, seven aces and seven blocks in addition to their 42 kills. Middle Tennessee finished the night with 33 kills, a .157 hitting percentage, 20 errors, 31 assists, one ace, 21 digs and six total blocks.
"UNO is just as hot as we are right now," Hudson said. "We are going to stay relaxed and go out there and fight hard tomorrow and keep playing as well as we have been."
The championship match between WKU and New Orleans will begin at 2 p.m. CST and the winner will receive the Sun Belt Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Live stats will be available at www.sunbeltsports.org.