Tops Sweep Eighth-Straight Match as NCAA-Best Conference Streak Grows to 37 Wins
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - No. 21 WKU Volleyball downed FIU in straight sets on Saturday to sweep its eighth-consecutive match for 24-straight set victories. The Hilltoppers’ NCAA-best conference (37 matches) and road (18 matches) win streaks each grew by two across the weekend series from Miami.
WKU improved to 15-1 on the 2021 campaign including a 4-0 mark in Conference USA matches with the victory. WKU is now 38-2 across the last two seasons and 70-4 spanning the last three.
Through the series, WKU outhit the Panthers .353 to a mere .039 mark, recording 30 more kills than FIU.
WKU vs. FIU – 25-13, 25-18, 25-17
WKU Volleyball opened up a quick 4-0 lead before FIU would get on the board on Saturday. After the Panthers registered a kill, Logan Kael headed back to the service line for an 11-0 run to push the Tops to a 16-1 lead. WKU would lead by as much as 18-3 before taking the first set 25-13. The Hilltoppers needed eight rotations in the opening frame.
Set 2 For the first time all weekend, FIU scored opening point in the second frame and would own its first lead of the series as well. The Panthers pushed into double digits first at 10-9 but WKU would follow on the next point. A successful challenge by Hudson began a 4-0 run for the Hilltoppers that would push WKU ahead for good at 14-11 and force an FIU timeout. After the Panthers closed the gap to a one-point deficit at 18-17, WKU got the final say as Hallie Shelton helped the Tops to a 5-0 run to close out the 25-18 victory.
The second set of Saturday’s action saw six ties and three lead changes, the only of the sort across the whole series from Miami.
Set 3 The Hilltoppers worked to a quick 10-5 lead in the third frame with a Kayland Jackson kill off an overpass pushing WKU into double digits and forcing an FIU timeout. Two points later out of the break, Lauren Matthews crushed another overpass from the Panthers for an 11-6 lead. FIU stuck around and trailed just 13-9 before WKU would use a 5-2 run for an 18-11 advantage. The Hilltoppers would ultimately take the set 25-17 while hitting a match-best .455 hitting clip in the frame.
Matthews and Paige Briggs worked into double-digit kills with 11 and 10, respectively. Matthews was held to a .381 clip on the day with 11 kills against three errors on 21 swings. She would open the match 5-for-5 on kills though, surpassing 40 attacks without an error dating back to WKU’s first match against Marshall.
Briggs hit .348 to go along with eight digs, two aces and a block on the match. Matthews and Katie Isenbarger each tallied four blocks.
Nadia Dieudonne facilitated the Hilltopper offense to a .306 hitting percentage. She notched 21 assists, six digs, three kills and a block.
Kelsey Brangers led the WKU defense with 11 digs to go along with three assists. The FIU offense was held to a 0.087 hitting clip.
WKU struck for seven aces with three from Kael, two from Briggs and one each from Ashley Hood and Hallie Shelton.
SCHEDULE Friday, Oct. 1 – No. 21 WKU def. FIU, 3-0Saturday, Oct. 2 – No. 21 WKU def. FIU, 3-0
NEXT UP The Hilltoppers will stay on the road and head to Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. CT first serve against the Colonels from Richmond, Ky. Following the midweek, WKU will have an off weekend before returning to Diddle Arena to host Middle Tennessee from October 15-16.
- WKU kept its tweaked lineup for the second match as Paige Briggs, Nadia Dieudonne, Lauren Matthews, Kayland Jackson, Katie Isenbarger, Katie Howard and Kelsey Brangers (libero) earned starts. The Tops’ line was its fourth different look of the season and this combination is now 2-0.
- The Hilltoppers have won 18-straight matches over FIU dating back to the 2011 campaign. WKU now leads the all-time series 40-8.
- With four aces in WKU’s Friday sweep at FIU, Hallie Shelton moved into fourth on the Hilltoppers’ all-time aces list with 161. She added another on Saturday for 162 in her career. Across the last two series against FIU, Shelton has posted 15 aces against the Panthers.
- Lauren Matthews added three more solo blocks on Saturday and now owns 112 on her career which is just five shy of setting the program record at 117.
- The Hilltopper defense held its first opponent of the season to a negative hitting clip as FIU hit just a -.012 mark on Friday before allowing the Panthers to work at just aa .087 mark on Saturday.
- With the win, the Hilltoppers improve to 15-1 (4-0 C-USA) on the season and 13-0 in three-set matches.
- WKU’s conference win streak grew to 37-consecutive matches and 18-consecutive wins on the road with Saturday’s sweep of the Panthers. Both streaks are the longest active marks in NCAA Volleyball.
- With the day’s results, head coach Travis Hudson is now 680-217 across his career.
- WKU Volleyball is now up to an all-time program record of 958-492 with Friday’s win.
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