MIAMI, Fla.-Four different Lady Toppers put up double-digit kills to lead No. 19 Western Kentucky University volleyball team (25-3, 11-0 SBC) to a 3-1 win (25-17, 26-28, 25-20, 25-15) at FIU (7-16, 4-7 SBC) on Friday in Miami.
With the support of WKU football head coach Willie Taggart and the Hilltopper football team in attendance, the Lady Toppers bounced back from dropping their first set in Sun Belt Conference play and since September 15 to take the final two sets and keep the team's win streak alive to 17 games, which is tied with Morehead State as the longest active win streak in the nation.
Double-doubles from senior Jordyn Skinner and junior Melanie Stutsman led the team. Skinner posted 16 kills and 17 digs while Stutsman added 51 assists and 16 digs. Sophomore Heather Boyan notched 13 kills and four blocks while fellow middle hitter freshman Noelle Langenkamp had 11 kills and three blocks. Freshman Haley Bodway tallied 12 kills. Junior Ashley Potts put up a game-high 26 digs.
Two kills by redshirt junior Paige Wessel and Bodway to open the first set sparked WKU to a quick 13-4 lead over FIU. The Lady Toppers continued to grab one of their largest leads at 22-12 using an all-around effort with five different Lady Toppers adding kills, a sophomore Mollie Pajakowski ace and block by Stutsman and Boyan. The Panthers continued to chip away at their deficit, as a 6-1 run brought the score to 24-17; however, a kill by Langenkamp would give WKU the first set 25-17.
The Lady Toppers were able to keep FIU at a three- or four-point difference early in the second set, including their 12-8 advantage after a Bodway kill. FIU came back to tie the set at 12 and three more times after before WKU regained the lead at 19-16 following a block by Skinner and kill from Langenkamp. FIU worked its way back after a timeout at 21-18 to knot the game at 22. After four more tied scores set the contest at 26 apiece, the Panthers closed the set with a block for a 28-26 win.
After trading points and being tied at 5 in the third frame, FIU took over at 6-5 to hold the lead for a majority of the early part of the set. WKU would get within one point multiple times throughout the set, including a kill by Langenkamp to make it 12-11. The Lady Toppers didn't let some adversity get them down, as the team rallied from its deficit to get its largest lead at 23-17 after two-consecutive Panther miscues before Boyan's kill sealed the win at 25-20.
Defensive stops by Langenkamp and Skinner at the net gave WKU the advantage to begin the fourth contest. The Lady Toppers carried the momentum to a 14-8 lead to force a Panthers timeout. Out of the break, Skinner put down four kills while Bodway added three to carry WKU to a 25-15 win and the match victory.
WKU rounds out the weekend with a matchup at Florida Atlantic on Saturday, October 27 at noon CT.