Troy, Ala.-After rallying from behind in the third set, the No. 19 Western Kentucky University volleyball team (27-3, 13-0 SBC) clinched the Sun Belt Conference regular season title for the second-straight year after defeating Troy (18-10, 8-4 SBC) by a score of 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) on Friday night.
It is the 19th-straight win for the Lady Toppers, who were tied for the longest active win streak in the nation coming into the weekend, and the 20th sweep of the 2012 season. WKU has now won 43 of its last 44 sets played and have only dropped one set in league play.
Redshirt junior Paige Wessel and junior Ashley Potts were the only players in the match to hit double-digit kills and digs, respectively, as Wessel totaled 11 kills and Potts posted 15 digs. Sophomore Heather Boyan and freshman Haley Bodway had nine kills each while freshman Noelle Langenkamp had seven kills on 11 attempts with one error to hit a team-high .545 attack percentage.
For Troy, Devin Von Pingel and Kayla Pickart had nine kills each followed by Blair Winston's eight. Courtney Cohen and Alexandra Alexander tabbed eight digs apiece while Alicia Dukes chipped in seven. Dukes along with Breanna Cullity had three blocks in the match.
Ahead 8-6 in the first set, a kill and block from senior Jordyn Skinner and an ace by sophomore Mollie Pajakowski gave WKU a 10-6 lead. From there, a pair of kills by Langenkamp in addition to kills by Bodway, Wessel and Stutsman extended the lead to 18-12 and force a Troy timeout. Two more kills by Wessel and a big block by Bodway and Boyan to setup set point would help WKU take the first set 25-18.
The Lady Toppers showed why they are ranked in the top 10 in the nation in hitting percentage in their 25-19 second-set win, as the team posted 18 kills on 35 attempts with only three errors to have a set hitting percentage of .429. A tight match early that favored the Trojans, a kill by Langenkamp sparked a 4-0 run to get WKU ahead 9-6. Troy would get within two points four different times, including at 16-14, but with three attackers with three kills while Boyan and Wessel led the charge with four kills in the set, WKU would cruise to the win.
WKU jumped ahead early in the third contest, as four-straight points that consisted of a Bodway and Stutsman kill and a senior Sarah Rogers service ace pushed the Lady Toppers ahead 8-5. WKU would take a four-point advantage at 11-7, but Troy worked its way back, as the Trojans strung a 9-3 scoring run together to take the lead at 16-14 and force WKU to the benches. Out of the break, Troy got as much as a four-point lead three times, including at 21-17. The momentum quickly turned back to the visitors, as a kill by Langenkamp, ace from Skinner and Troy attack error put WKU down 21-20 as Troy called a timeout. Immediately out of the gates, Troy put up a block to make it 22-20, but four-straight points with kills by Wessel and Bodway, block by Bodway and Boyan as well as a Troy miscue rallied WKU for the 25-22 win and match victory.
The Lady Toppers play in their last regular-season road match of the season, as the team will take on South Alabama on Sunday, November 4 at noon in Mobile.