Bowling Green, Ky. — A pair of late-game comebacks and a solid match from its two middle hitters propelled the Western Kentucky University volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep (30-21, 30-26, 30-22) over Belmont Tuesday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Megan Argabright and Jenna Gideon led the Lady Topper offense with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Gideon also finished with a season-best .526 hitting percentage, and added eight total blocks — including four solos.
“We really challenged Megan and Jenna coming into this match, and they responded like the star players they are,” said Lady Topper head coach Travis Hudson. “Jenna really took over in game two when we started to come back, but both were tremendous all night long.”
The Lady Toppers (11-3) opened and closed game one strong, scoring the first five points of the night to take an early lead. Belmont (10-4) immediately began to battle back, and was able to pull even at 10-10 on a WKU attack error. After trading points, the Bruins used a 4-1 spurt to open up their first lead at 15-12. The Lady Toppers were able to pull even at 15-15, but Belmont jumped back in front and held a 20-17 lead after a WKU service error.
A kill from Brittany Bowen sparked a run of seven unanswered Lady Topper points as they regained a 24-20 lead thanks to a Kelly Hofmeyer service ace. After a timeout, Cat Mundy ended the run with a kill for Belmont, but WKU scored the final five points of the game to win the opener 30-21.
It was much of the same in game two as the teams traded points to open the contest before a 5-1 Belmont run gave it a 14-9 lead. The Bruin lead grew as high as six points when another Mundy kill made it 22-16, but a kill from Julia Noe, two from Gideon and a Bruin attack error pulled WKU back within two at 22-20. After trading points, Gideon put down three kills in a 5-0 Lady Topper run as they regained a 27-24 lead. The Lady Toppers were able to trade points with Belmont the rest of the way as they took a two-game lead into the locker room with a 30-26 victory in game two.
“We really came out tonight with a long of emotion, but Belmont is a very, very good team and we knew they would make runs at us all night,” said Hudson. “We faced so much adversity falling behind in the first two games, but I thought our kids stayed really focused and really positive.”
The Lady Toppers took control of game three midway through when a 9-2 run allowed them to open up a 20-12 after a block from Aquila Orr. Again Belmont refused to go away, scoring four of the next five points to make it a 21-17 contest. However, the defense stepped up down the stretch as WKU allowed Belmont just three kills the rest of the way. The Lady Toppers closed the game on a 5-1 run of its own as Orr finished things off with a kill as WKU picked up an eight-point win in game three.
The Lady Toppers will head back out on the road this weekend as they open Sun Belt Conference play against a pair of East Division foes. WKU will visit Troy for a 7 p.m. (CDT) match on Friday (Sept. 21), then travel to South Alabama for a 2 p.m. match on Saturday.
“The Sun Belt Conference will be a challenge all the way though, but I like our chances if we can build on tonight’s performance,” said Hudson, who has seen his teams win at least a share of seven straight Sun Belt East Division championships. “We’ve got a great group of kids that need to build that championship mentality. If we can do that, I feel like good things are ahead of us.”