WKU Volleyball Slated to Win Conference in Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers middle hitter Lauren Matthews (5) Ohio State Buckeyes at WKU...
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers middle hitter Lauren Matthews (5) Ohio State Buckeyes at WKU Hilltoppers, September 13, 2019 at E.A. Diddle Arena(WBKO)
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 6:15 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - After an impeccable 2021 that brought another 20+ win season to WKU Volleyball and head coach Travis Hudson, the 2022 squad is slated to win the conference title yet again in the preseason coaches’ poll C-USA announced Thursday. All-Americans Paige Briggs, Katie Isenbarger and Lauren Matthews were all named to the league’s Preseason All-Conference team, while Matthews was tabbed as Preseason Player of the Year.

WKU’s duo of Paige Briggs and Lauren Matthews both collected their fourth recognition on the preseason team, each earning First Team All-Conference accolades twice, while Katie Isenbarger makes her first appearance on the preseason roster after collecting Second Team All-Conference in 2021.

Capping off a remarkable year, Matthews enters her fifth-year campaign on The Hill after leading the nation with a .480 hitting percentage. Last season, the Indianapolis, Ind., became the first player in program history to land on the AVCAAll-American team multiple times in their career, while being named the C-USA Alyssa Cavanaugh Player of the Year for 2021. Matthews was named as an alternate to the 2022 U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team and averaged 4.54 kills per set in 2021.

Briggs, the former C-USA Freshman of the Year and 2020-21′s AVCA South Region Player of the Year landed on the preseason team prior to her senior campaign. Last season, the Ortonville, Mich., native racked up AVCA All-Region honors and earned a spot on the 2022 U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team. Briggs deposited 290 kills playing in all 30 matches 2021.

Isenbarger dawns the Red and White for the fifth and final season of her career in 2022. She was the 2021-22 Conference USA Volleyball Scholar Athlete of the Year, WKU John O. Oldham Female Student-Athlete of the Year, received AVCAAll-Region honorable mention honors, while picking up a .385 hitting average last season - third in the conference.

Returning back to a straight slate of the conference instead of divisions, WKU was picked first in the C-USA East division in 2021, while regaining the same spot in the delayed 2020 season. Rice was tabbed second with two first-place votes for 2022

.2022 C-USA COACHES PRESEASON POLL & TEAM

2022 Conference USA Preseason Team

Emani’ Foster, Charlotte, Jr., OH

Amani McArthur, Charlotte, Sr., MB

Marley Banton, Middle Tennessee, Sr., DS

Anota Adekunle, Rice, Sr., MB

Ellie Bichelmeyer, Rice, Sr., OH

Carly Graham, Rice, Sr., S

Fernanda Maida, UAB, Sr., OH/RS

Alianza Darley, UTEP, Sr., OH/MB

Serena Patterson, UTEP, Gr., OH

Paige Briggs, WKU, Sr., OH

Katie Isenbarger, WKU, 5th., MH

Lauren Matthews, WKU, 5th., MH

Preseason Player of the Year: Lauren Matthews, WKU

C-USA 2022 Volleyball Preseason Poll:

1. WKU (9)

2. Rice (2)

3. UTEP

4. Charlotte

5. North Texas

6. UAB

7. FIU

8. Middle Tennessee

9. UTSA

10. Florida Atlantic

11. Louisiana Tech

(Divisional first-place votes in parenthesis)