Advertisement

No. 20 WKU claims C-USA East Division Title with sweep at MTSU

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers outside hitter Paige Briggs (1) FAU Owls at WKU Hilltoppers, on...
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers outside hitter Paige Briggs (1) FAU Owls at WKU Hilltoppers, on February 8, 2021 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY(Steve Roberts/WKU Athletics | Steve Roberts/WKU Athletics)
Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WBKO) -WKU Volleyball locked in Sunday afternoon to clinch the Conference USA East Division regular-season championship with a series sweep over Middle Tennessee. The Hilltoppers claimed the decision over the Blue Raiders in straight sets by scores of 25-14, 25-17, and 25-16 from the Alumni Memorial Gym in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

“This was a really solid effort by our team today,” began head coach Travis Hudson. “When we play solid in all phases we are pretty difficult to deal with.”

WKU improved to a perfect 16-0 on the season with their 13th sweep of the 2020-21 campaign on Sunday. The Tops own a flawless 10-0 mark in league play this year as well.

Lauren Matthews struck for a kill to open all three sets on the day and the Hilltoppers would never trail as the match saw just four ties. WKU has now won 48 of 51 sets this season.

WKU pushed out to a 9-4 lead in the opening frame and would be the first to double digits by a score of 10-6. Middle Tennessee called for timeouts trailing 8-4 and 20-13 by WKU struck for the next point out of both stoppages. The Hilltoppers closed the opening set on a 4-0 and 7-1 run for the 25-14 decision. Avri Davis and Lauren Matthews teamed up for a block to put the finish touches on the first set.

Set two saw the Blue Raiders call for another early timeout, trailing 7-3 but Katie Isenbarger would welcome them back to the court with a kill and the Tops pushed out to an 11-4 and 15-6 lead. MTSU’s second stoppage came at the 13-6 mark but back-to-back Blue Raider attack errors gave the Tops the next two points. The Hilltoppers worked ahead to a 23-13 lead with a kill from Davis before a Kayland Jackson strike gave the Red and White a 25-17 decision and 2-0 lead in the match.

In the final frame, the Hilltoppers fired out to a 5-0 lead to force and MTSU timeout. After scoring the next point out of the break, WKU would also push its advantage to a 10-2 mark and force the Blue Raiders’ second stoppage. From there, the Hilltoppers kept their foot on the gas for a 20-9 lead before claiming the set 25-16 on another Matthews kill.

WKU’s offense operated at a .330 hitting clip while the Tops stifled Middle Tennessee, holding them to just a .057 attack rate. Matthews racked up a match-best 13 kills on 18 errorless swings for a scorching .722 hitting clip. She would also add five blocks and a dig.

Isenbarger (nine kills, three blocks) and Paige Briggs (eight kills, 14 digs) would combine for 17 kills and five more Hilltopper blocks. Briggs’ 14 digs were a match-high while Logan Kael joined her in double digits with 11.

Nadia Dieudonne racked up 29 assists and six digs to go along with a block, an ace, and a kill. Taylor Bebout closed out the setting duties and tallied four assists.

Hallie Shelton added two of WKU’s five aces in addition to six digs.

The Tops (16-0) will head to Norfolk, Va., for the first time in program history for the first-ever meetings with Old Dominion on March 26 and 27 to close out the 2020-21 regular season. First serve is 6 p.m. CT Friday night before a quick turnaround with an 11:30 a.m. CT start time on Saturday morning.

Copyright 2021 WBKO. All rights reserved.