LAS VEGAS— The WKU volleyball team (1-1) split its opening day of the 2014 season after defeating UC Riverside (0-1) 3-0 and falling in the day’s late game to UNLV (1-1) at the UNLV Invitational on Friday.
WKU will conclude the tournament on Saturday, August 30 with a match against Cal State Northridge at 3:30 p.m. CT. The Matadors defeated UNLV 3-1 in its only match of the tourney.
WKU 3, UC Riverside 0
WKU opened the season with a sweep of UC Riverside (25-16, 25-20, 25-12), hitting .400 as a team with just nine attack errors.
Freshman Alyssa Cavanaugh led the charge with 12 kills while senior Heather Boyan put up a .629 hitting mark behind 10 kills. Newcomer Jessica Lucas dished out 32 assists, helping the team collect 45 kills.
Defense came up big for WKU, as the back row was led by sophomore Georgia O’Connell’s career-high 14 digs and fellow classmate Kaelin Grimes with 10. The Lady Toppers were able to hold UCR to 31 kills and .064 hitting percentage with 11 team blocks, led by junior Noelle Langenkamp’s six.
In the opening set, WKU jumped out to a 7-3 lead to have UCR call a timeout. A 5-0 run by the Lady Toppers that was capped off by a Lucas-Boyan block put the score at 15-6. Kills from R. Engle and Boyan followed, forcing the Highlanders to use their last timeout. With a .440 hitting clip, WKU took the first set 25-16.
The Highlanders grabbed a 4-3 lead to start the second frame before an 8-2 run put WKU up 11-6. A Sydney Engle kill sandwiched by kills from Cavanaugh pushed the lead to 16-9. UCR closed in late at 23-30 but a kill from Cavanaugh along with a block assist from the Louisville native and Langenkamp sealed the set for WKU at 25-20. Cavanaugh led the Lady Toppers with six kills in the set.
Three kills from Boyan in the third set’s early play helped the Lady Toppers to a 7-3 advantage. Using 15 digs, including four from O’Connell and three from each Grimes and senior Mollie Pajakowski, and four team blocks, WKU held the Highlanders to a negative hitting mark for the frame, cruising to a 25-12 win.
UNLV 3, WKU 0
UNLV’s .279 hitting percentage along with 12 team blocks gave the host Rebels the 3-0 win (25-19, 25-20, 25-20) in WKU’s second game of the day.
WKU had 25 attack miscues to hit .130 as a team versus the Rebels, but just had one less kill than UNLV at 40. Junior Haley Bodway led the team with nine kill while Cavanaugh added seven. Lucas passed 32 assists to go along with four kills and eight digs.
Grimes collected a career-high 14 digs with O’Connell right behind at 11. At the net, S. Engle led the squad with four blocks while Boyan notched three, as WKU totaled six in the match.
UNLV led right away in the first set and never squandered its advantage to win 25-19. The Rebels hit .467 for the frame, tabbing 15 kills and one error. WKU hit .241 with a trio of players having three kills.
The home team continued to carry momentum in the second frame before a kill by Boyan and UNLV miscue cut the lead to 14-12 and forced a UNLV timeout. After the break, UNLV sparked a 5-1 run to lead 19-13 and have WKU call a timeout. WKU put up a late rally led by kills from the middle hitters to have the score read 22-18, but UNLV would win 25-20.
In the third set, the teams traded points with 13 tied scores and five lead changes. WKU grabbed a late lead at 20-18 after a kill from Boyan; however, five-straight attack errors by WKU gave UNLV a 23-20 lead before taking the set 25-20.
The 2014 WKU volleyball season is being presented by the United States Marines. This season, the Marines and WKU Athletics are working together to promote the outstanding athletic and academic achievements of our female student-athletes. The Marines are proud to work with and support these future leaders of America.
For all the latest news and information on WKU volleyball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the program on Twitter via @TravisHudsonWKU and @WKUVolleyball.