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Defense Shines as Tops Close Out WKU Volleyball Invite Sweep

WKU gets invitational sweep
WKU gets invitational sweep(Mohammad Ahmad)
Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 4:58 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Volleyball closed out its fourth-straight weekend of the season with a tournament sweep after downing St. John’s in straight sets Saturday afternoon inside E.A. Diddle Arena. The Hilltoppers swept all three foes to earn the WKU Volleyball Invite crown - their third tournament title of the season.”I always talk about there’s three levels of defenses in our game – there’s serving, there’s blocking and there’s floor defense – and to do the job we did today against St. John’s, you have to be pretty good at all of them and we were,” shared WKU head coach Travis Hudson. “We served it well, we blocked it well and we played good floor defense. That’s a good recipe to win.”

WKU ended St. John’s eight-match win streak as the Red Storm moved to 9-5 on the season with the loss.

Hudson’s counterpart on the St. John’s bench - Joanne Persico - is one of the eight NCAA Division I head coaches that have been at the same institution their whole career longer than Hudson. In her 28th season, Persico and Hudson entered the match with 1,198 combined wins for a .679 win percentage across 55 collective seasons at the helm of their programs.

Lauren Matthews earned WKU Volleyball Invite MVP honors after hitting .407 across the weekend and racking up 15 blocks (six solo). Katie Isenbarger joined her fellow middle on the All-Tournament Team after working at a .425 efficiency and tallying 10 blocks (two solo).

WKU vs. St. John’s – 25-19, 25-16, 25-19

Set 1

WKU jumped out to an early 12-6 lead behind strong blocking from Paige Briggs and Isenbarger. A Hallie Shelton serving run pushed the Tops to a 15-8 advantage forcing St. John’s’ second timeout of the frame. WKU’s seven-point margin would only grow the rest of the way en route to a 25-14 first-set win. The Red and White worked at a .300 hitting percentage while holding St. Johns to -.093.

Set 2

WKU jumped out to another quick 8-4 lead before St. John’s would go on a run cutting the lead to 13-11 before knotting the score at 14-14. Out of a timeout, Matthews struck for a kill and the lead. Briggs would break a 19-19 tie with a kill to spark a 3-0 run extending their lead to 22-19. WKU would ultimately claim the set 25-21 on a St. John’s error. The Hilltoppers turned up the heat in the second set, hitting at a .429 mark. 

Set 3

Hudson called a rare timeout in the third frame after St. John’s opened a 7-3 lead in set three. WKU was able to go on a 3-0 run after the timeout behind strong hitting from Kayland Jackson and Paige Briggs. The Hilltoppers pushed out to a 12-9 lead after another Jackson kill. From there, a 7-0 run extended WKU’s lead to 18-11. WKU kept its foot on the gas to win the set and match, 25-14. SCHEDULE

Friday, September 17 – No. 23 WKU def. Ohio, 3-0

Friday, September 17 – No. 23 WKU def. Austin Peay, 3-0

Saturday, September 18 – No. 23 WKU def. St. Johns, 3-0

NEXT UP WKU will continue its homestand next weekend as Marshall comes to town for a two-match series to open Conference USA play. Action from Diddle Arena is slated for a 6 p.m. first serve Friday night followed by a noon start on Saturday.

Flexible season ticket packages are on sale now and include 13 vouchers that fans can use at any regular-season home match in whatever fashion they choose. Fans can opt for the traditional use of one ticket for all 13 home matches or bring a group to a few matches. Flexible ticket packages are available for $50 at WKUTickets.com, by calling 1-800-5-BIGRED or by coming to the WKU Ticket Office during regular business hours.

POST-MATCH NOTES

  • WKU tweaked its lineup as Paige Briggs, Nadia Dieudonne, Lauren Matthews, Hallie Shelton, Kayland Jackson, Katie Howard and Kelsey Brangers (libero) earned starts on the day. The Tops’ new line was its third different look of the season and this combination is now 1-0.
  • Lauren Matthews tallied a match-high 12 kills while hitting .529. She now owns 11 double-digit kill matches this season and 67 across her career.
  • Kelsey Brangers led WKU in kills with 10 for her second-straight match in double digits and third of the season.
  • WKU held St. John’s to a .032 hitting percentage (30-27-95) - the lowest by an opponent this season. The Tops have now held four opponents below a .100 clip.
  • The Hilltoppers claimed the first-ever meeting against St. John’s in a 3-0 sweep.
  • With the wins, the Hilltoppers improve to 11-1 on the season and 9-0 in three-set matches.
  • With the day’s results, head coach Travis Hudson is now 676-217 across his career.
  • WKU Volleyball is now up to an all-time program record of 954-492 with Saturday’s win.

How to Follow WKU Volleyball: For complete information on WKU Volleyball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUVolleyball and head coach Travis Hudson at @TravisHudsonWKU. The team is also on Instagram and Facebook.

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