BOWLING GREEN, Ky.—Eight service aces from the Western Kentucky University volleyball team (15-4, 5-0) boosted the Lady Toppers to their eighth-straight win, as the team swept UT Arlington (10-7, 3-1) by scores of 25-19, 25-14, 25-16 on Saturday afternoon in E.A. Diddle Arena.
It is the most service aces for WKU since the first game of 2013 when the Lady Toppers recorded 10 against Alabama A&M. Sophomore Rachel Engle led the serving game with a trio of aces coming in a row during the first set. Sophomore Noelle Langenkamp added two while junior Mollie Pajakowski and seniors Melanie Stutsman and Ashley Potts had one each.
With the sweep, WKU recorded its sixth-straight 3-0 victory and tenth of the season. Against Sun Belt Conference opponents, WKU has won 38-straight sets when including the conference tournament while 29 in regular-season play. The Lady Toppers now have 31-straight victories in SBC action.
Redshirt senior Paige Wessel and sophomore Haley Bodway had 13 kills each while Langenkamp followed with 11. The Lady Toppers posted 54 kills to UTA’s 29. Stutsman passed out 46 assists to lead WKU to a .373 hitting mark.
A big part of holding the Mavericks’ offense came with WKU notching 54 digs, led by Potts’ 20. Junior Mollie Pajakowski added seven digs while Stutsman had seven.
UTA led the blocking game with seven, including six through two sets, to WKU’s one. Ashley Bennett tabbed four blocks while a pair of Mavericks added three each. In the back row, Caitlyn Cooney posted 11 digs. Offensively, Shelby Dickson had eight kills followed by two others with five apiece.
The visiting team pulled ahead early in the first set, but the advantage wouldn’t last long after Engle’s aces put WKU up 6-4. The Lady Toppers got ahead as much as five before UTA closed the gap by tying it at 16. Up by one at 20-19 after a Bodway kill, four WKU kills and an ace from Langenkamp sealed a 6-0 run for WKU and the set at 25-19.
Behind the serving arm of Engle and Pajakowski, WKU put up a 13-1 scoring spree to distance itself 15-4 in the second set. A .385 hitting percentage and 19 kills for WKU, led by Bodway’s seven kills, along with WKU’s 25 digs to hold UTA to just seven kills carried the team to a 25-14 win before the break.
The momentum of the second frame continued in the third set, as WKU jumped ahead 9-2 after eight WKU kills and a pair of aces. The Lady Toppers kept rolling, notching their first block of the match with a stop at the net by Langenkamp and Stutsman to make it 20-14. After a UTA timeout, a kill from each Langenkamp and Bodway closed the door with a 25-16 win.
One more SBC match in Diddle Arena awaits WKU before a four-game road swing. The Lady Toppers face ULM on Friday, October 11 at 7 p.m. It is the team’s annual “Dig 4 Pink” match and is a free event. The first 250 fans will receive a free pink rally towel.
For more information on WKU volleyball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the program on Twitter via @WKUVolleyball and @TravisHudsonWKU.