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Hilltoppers sweep first-ever meeting with Old Dominion

FIU Panthers vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on March 7, 2021 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling...
FIU Panthers vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on March 7, 2021 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY West Virginia Mountaineers vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on March 12, 2021 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY West Virginia Mountaineers vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on March 12, 2021 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY(Chris Kohley/WKU Athletics | Jeff Lightsy)
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 10:09 PM CDT
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NORFOLK, Va. (WBKO) -No. 18 Western Kentucky Volleyball continued its run through the 2020-21 season with a 3-0 sweep at Old Dominion on Friday. The Tops won the first match of the rescheduled series 25-12, 25-17, 25-19 to improve to 17-0 overall on the season and 11-0 in Conference USA.

“I thought our kids played really well tonight,” opened WKU Volleyball head coach Travis Hudson. “Old Dominion is a well-coached team and is off to a phenomenal start as a member of Conference USA. They have a very bright future.”

The win from Norfolk, Va., marked the Hilltoppers’ 14th sweep of the season and pushed the Red and White to a 51-3 record by set.

WKU scored the first point of the night thanks to a kill from Avri Davis but the sides would trade points to a 3-3 tie. The Hilltoppers would use a 7-0 run to push out to a 9-3 lead. WKU doubled up the Monarchs at 16-8 before closing the opening frame on a 9-4 run for a 25-12 decision. Paige Briggs was already well on her way to her 10th double-double of the season with seven kills on 11 swings.

The Hilltoppers posted an outstanding 91 percent sideout rate in the opening set, allowing ODU consecutive serves just once in 12 trips to the service line.

Set two would see just one lead change after Old Dominion scored the opening point. WKU would take the lead for good at 11-10 after an ODU service error, which sparked a 3-0 Hilltopper run. The Monarchs pulled back within one at 13-12 but WKU wouldn’t allow consecutive ODU points the rest of the way while scoring multiple points all but one remaining trip to the service line. Back-to-back Katie Isenbarger kills gave the Hilltoppers a 17-13 lead and a few points later, WKU would close the frame on a 5-1 run for the 25-17 win. Isenbarger finished with six kills in the set.

Out of the break, ODU jumped out to a quick 4-2 lead before a 5-0 Hilltopper run forced another early timeout by the Monarchs. Old Dominion knotted things back up at 8-8 before the Hilltoppers were the first to double digits for the third time of the night. The 13th and final tie of the match came at 10-10 before a kill from Davis sparked a 4-0 run and gave the Tops the lead for good. After the Monarchs pulled within one at 17-16, a Kayland Jackson kill sparked another 3-0 run. WKU would close the night with a 4-0 run thanks to another kill from Jackson, two Lauren Matthews’ kills, and an Ashley Hood service ace.

Briggs finished with a match-best 11 kills on 23 attacks for a .348 percentage to go along with 11 digs. She’s now posted a double-double against 5-of-6 C-USA East Division teams.

Isenbarger tallied nine kills on 13 errorless swings for a .692 clip. Matthews added seven kills and four blocks while Jackson chipped in six kills.

Logan Kael registered 11 digs for her eighth double-digit dig outing of the season to go along with three aces. Ashley Hood added five digs in addition to a pair of aces.

The Hilltopper defense held the Monarchs to a .125 hitting clip in addition to holding ODU to a 50 percent sideout rate on the night.

Nadia Dieudonne facilitated the Hilltopper offense to a .329 mark – the team’s 14th match at .300 or better. The senior tallied 33 assists along with two digs, an ace, a block, and a kill.

The Tops (17-0) will close the regular season in Norfolk, Va., on Saturday with an 11:30 a.m. CT first serve.

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