STANFORD, Calif.— Led by the offensive presence of senior Jordyn Skinner, the No. 17 Western Kentucky University volleyball team (33-3) earned its first NCAA Tournament win in program history with a three-set sweep (25-23, 25-19, 25-17)against Loyola Marymount (18-13) on Friday, November 30 in Stanford University’s Maples Pavilion.
"I'm just super, super proud of our kids and the consistency in which we played tonight," WKU head coach Travis Hudson said. "Ii'm a guy that took over this program and went 7-28 in my first year. It's been a series of teams that came along and broke down doors and made other things possible for what WKU volleyball can be."
Skinner led the team with 14 kills, as she helped WKU to its 25th-straight win and 26th sweep this season. Sophomore Heather Boyan and freshman Haley Bodway each added eight kills while junior Melanie Stutsman dished out 32 assists to help the team hit .367 in the contest.
Defensively, junior Ashley Potts held down the back row with 11 digs. In the front row, WKU outblocked the Lions 13-6, as freshman Noelle Langenkamp tallied six blocks followed by Skinner and Bodway with four apiece.
Back-and-forth points started the match, as the teams traded leads three times and tied eight times before back-to-back solo blocks by Skinner gave WKU a 12-9 lead. Three-straight points for the Lions knotted it at 12, as one of two aces by Skinner put WKU ahead 15-14 at the media timeout. From the break, the Lady Toppers would not relinquish the lead with Skinner finishing the frame with five kills and Boyan with four to give WKU a 25-23 win.
Defense played a key role in WKU’s 25-19 second set victory, as the Lady Toppers took seven team blocks compared to LMU’s two. Tightly contested early, WKU fell behind 9-11 after a Lions kill. However, WKU broke the match open after a Stutsman kill sparked a 5-0 run to put the team with a 14-11 advantage. The Lady Toppers continued to stay in control of the contest, grabbing a lead as large as six at 22-16. Langenkamp led the team with five kills in the set, as her fifth came with Skinner to give WKU a 2-0 lead at the break.
WKU grabbed momentum early in the third set, as a LMU attack error gave the Lady Toppers a 4-1 advantage. Ahead 6-3, four-straight kills by four different Lady Toppers increased the lead to 10-3. Holding a six or seven point lead for the majority of the match, five kills each from Skinner and Bodway put WKU en route to a 25-17 third-set win.
WKU will continue its journey in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, December 1 when the Lady Toppers will take on the winner of Jackson State and No. 2 Stanford. The match is slated to begin at 9 p.m. CT and will be broadcast through GoStanford.com.