Matthews has record day as Tops sweep series against Charlotte

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 9:48 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -No. 20 Western Kentucky Volleyball improved to 9-0 this season after a 3-0 sweep over Charlotte, the program’s best-undefeated start in team history. Lauren Matthews led the hot-handed Hilltoppers to their eighth sweep in nine wins.

“I was really impressed with Charlotte yesterday and I knew that they would come back today and bring it again,” opened WKU Volleyball head coach Travis Hudson. “Charlotte is here to stay in this league for a while; they’re really talented, well-coached, and young. They’re a team to be reckoned with moving forward.”

“This was not the type of match that I love – getting into an offensive slugfest on both sides. I’d like to think we could control things defensively a little bit better but at the end of the day, we were pretty doggone good too and we’re really excited to get the win.”

In the opening frame, WKU jumped out to an early 7-1 lead and would keep its foot on the gas. Matthews played a part in scoring all of the Tops’ first five points, recording four kills and one block. Charlotte stayed close throughout the set, tying the score at 11-11. WKU went on a 14-6 run to end the set and capped it off with an ace by Cameron Mosley to win the set 25-17 and take the 1-0 advantage in the match. The Tops hit at a .393 clip and held Charlotte to .172, and recorded 15 kills to Charlotte’s 10.

The second set was much like set two from Sunday’s match, very competitive with back-and-forth scoring. There were five lead changes and neither team pieced together a large run in the set, until the closing points. Tied at 19-19, the Tops then went on a 7-2 run to finish the set and take a commanding 2-0 lead going into set three. After hitting at almost .400 in set one, WKU improved their percentage in the second to .448, limiting their errors and finishing 15 kills to win set two, 25-21.

WKU jumped out to a quick lead out of the break, leading 10-5 when Charlotte called timeout, and then extending their lead following the break, going up 14-6, 17-9, and 20-12. The 49ers responded though, going on an 8-2 run, to tighten the match at 22-20. Following this, Matthews registered her final kill of the match, adding to her career-high, 25, besting her former career-high of 22 in a five-set match against Northern Kentucky in 2019. This gave the Tops what they needed to secure the match and complete their second straight sweep of Charlotte in as many days.

Matthews finished with 25 kills on 29 attempts for a .828 hitting clip to go along with one solo block and three total stuffs. Prior to her lone attack error, Matthews was on pace to break the NCAA individual match record for a performance of 20 or more attacks. Matthews already holds WKU’s single-match hitting percentage record at .882 from a 2019 match against Samford.

“If people think Lauren Matthews is special just because she’s a terrific athlete, they don’t understand,” Hudson continued. “That kid is always craving getting better. We sat down this morning and watched film with a critical eye and found things we could do better. From the moment she got here, Lauren’s always been coachable and put her trust in me.”

“I felt like, not necessarily to prove anything to anyone but more holding myself accountable for yesterday, that I needed to turn the page and go into this new game and that gave me motivation,” Matthews shared of her career day.

Isenbarger and Briggs added 10 kills each and two blocks each along with Dieudonne who also recorded two total blocks and 39 assists, which led the attack and helped the Tops finish with a .483 hitting percentage. Monday’s team hitting percentage is a season-high mark for the Hilltoppers.

“That’s always how our program has been ran,” began Isenbarger. “Yesterday, I didn’t have the best match in my opinion but we were throwing it to the outsides. It’s not about “me” it’s about where can we go, who’s the teammate we can go to that’s having the most success and I think that’s what makes our team really special. We want our teammates and our team cohesively to have as much success as possible. No one will be mad, especially the outsides in this instance, they understand that we keep throwing it to Lauren in the middle.”

Briggs secured her fifth double-double of the season with 10 kills and 10 digs. Ashley Hood tied Briggs for the team-high of 10 digs.

Briggs, Mosley, and Kael each added one ace.

WKU Volleyball is scheduled to make its first road trip of the season with a weekend series at Marshall on Sunday and Monday in Huntington, W.Va.

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