Matthews Goes for NCAA 2021 Single-Match Hitting Percentage Record in Sweep at FIU
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - No. 21 WKU Volleyball opened its road trip to FIU with its seventh-consecutive sweep, downing the Panthers 3-0 in Friday’s matinee from the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. While the Hilltoppers held FIU to single-digit points for the third-straight set dating back to the spring campaign to open the series, WKU also held the Panthers to a -.012 hitting clip – the first time of the season for the Tops.
Lauren Matthews stole the show on the offensive side of things, connecting for kills on 13-of-14 swings. Her .929 hitting percentage is the highest in all of NCAA Volleyball this season for players with 10 or more swings. While Matthews’ performance would surpass the program record mark of .882 that she currently owns, 15 attack attempts are required to qualify.
“Lauren was really sharp offensively,” shared head coach Travis Hudson. “We didn’t have to use her ton early in the match but when we called her number she was ready. I thought she was playing high, playing aggressive and making good decisions. When she has a combination of those three things, she’s awfully hard to stop.”
WKU climbed to 14-1 on the season and 3-0 in Conference USA play with Friday’s victory. Additionally, WKU is now 12-0 in three-set matches. Since the Tops’ loss to Ole Miss, WKU has not dropped a set and has now won 21 straight.
Fourteen Hilltoppers would get in on the action from Miami on Friday.
“We’re going to be calling on all of these kids depending on what the match warrants,” continued Hudson. “I have a lot of confidence in our roster from top to bottom. You see a kid like Shannon Keck that got in there in the second set and played awfully, awfully well. These aren’t kids that can’t play, they’re just buried a little bit in terms of a really talented roster. When something’s occurring in a match and we think that they can make a difference, I have no hesitation to call on them.”
WKU vs. FIU – 25-6, 25-18, 25-18
Set 1 WKU jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead to force an FIU timeout and would soon be the first to double digits up 10-3. In the frame, the Hilltoppers got through just one complete rotation with every server tossing up multiple serves for the Tops. The Panthers would score back-to-back points just once in the frame to bring the score to 20-6. From there, Hallie Shelton served the rest of the way, striking for one of her four aces in the frame. Kenadee Coyle checked in at 22-6 and immediately struck for a kill and then teamed up with Matthews for a block to secure the 25-6 win.
The Hilltoppers held FIU to just one kill in the opening frame, holding the Panthers to a -.259 hitting clip. Additionally, WKU has now limited its opponent to single digits in the first set for back-to-back matches.
FIU’s six points are the fewest by an opponent since March 27, when WKU would hold Old Dominion to just six points in a frame. In WKU’s Feb. 8, 2021 sweep of Florida Atlantic, the Hilltoppers held the Owls to just five points in the opening frame, the fewest in the rally-scoring era by an opponent (since 2001).
Set 2 WKU once again took a quick lead in the second frame, going up 4-0 as Shelton struck for three more aces during that stretch. The Panthers hung around and would call a timeout trailing 13-7 and would end up hitting double digits for the first time since set one against the Tops in Bowling Green on March 8. WKU held off the late FIU run to take the frame 25-18.
Set 3 Set three saw WKU once against to double digits first at 10-6. The Panthers fired backed within two at 10-8 before Kayland Jackson struck for a kill. While FIU stuck around, the hosts would never tie the score in the set or the match as WKU led from wire-to-wire. FIU called a late timeout trailing 18-14 but the Hilltoppers would push on to a 25-18 third-set win. Matthews connected for kills on all eight of her swings in the final frame.
Nadia Dieudonne racked up 34 assists as the Hilltoppers connected for kills on 53.1% of Dieudonne’s sets in the match. She added seven digs, an ace and a block in the outing as well.
Paige Briggs struck for nine kills on 20 swings for a .400 hitting clip to accompany her four digs and ace.
Kelsey Brangers led the WKU defense with 10 digs – her fifth double-digit dig outing of the season.
To go along with her 13 kills and career-high hitting percentage, Matthews also racked up five blocks and a couple digs.
SCHEDULE Friday, Oct. 1 – No. 21 WKU def. FIU, 3-0Saturday, Oct. 2 – No. 21 WKU at FIU – 11 a.m. CT
NEXT UP WKU Volleyball will close its series at FIU on Saturday with another matinee outing as first serve goes up at 11 a.m. CT.
- WKU tweaked its lineup a little bit as Paige Briggs, Nadia Dieudonne, Lauren Matthews, Kayland Jackson, Katie Howard and Kelsey Brangers (libero) earned starts on the day while Katie Isenbarger replaced Hallie Shelton. The Tops’ new line was its fourth different look of the season and this combination is now 1-0.
- The Hilltoppers have won 17-straight matches over FIU dating back to the 2011 campaign. WKU now leads the all-time series 39-8.
- Lauren Matthews tallied 13 kills on 14 errorless swings for a career-best .929 hitting percentage. Her mark is the highest in all of NCAA Volleyball this season for players with 10 or more swings. While Matthews’ performance would surpass the program record mark of .882 that she currently owns, 15 attack attempts are required to qualify.
- Collectively, the WKU offense fired at a .402 clip on the day – it’s second straight match above .400.
- The Hilltopper defense held its first opponent of the season to a negative hitting clip as FIU hit just a -.012 mark.
- With the win, the Hilltoppers improve to 14-1 (3-0 C-USA) on the season and 12-0 in three-set matches.
- WKU’s conference win streak grew to 36-consecutive matches with Friday’s sweep of the Panthers.
- With the day’s results, head coach Travis Hudson is now 679-217 across his career.
- WKU Volleyball is now up to an all-time program record of 957-492 with Friday’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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