WKU Volleyball wins the conference USA regular season championship
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Volleyball beat Rice in a five-star [set] (25-19, 28-26, 26-24, 25-17, 16-14) showdown to finish undefeated in conference play and win the conference USA regular season championship.
“When the season began you knew that this match was probably decide this thing. Putting it at this point adds to its value. We knew what was on the line, Rice knew what was on the line. I think that’s great for everybody involved. We will use this as a toughening to get us ready for Tournament play and we’ll be ready.”
Lauren Matthews finished with 30 kills, her career best, and 13 blocks. Paige Briggs had 12 kills, 19 digs and four blocks. Callie Bauer had 7 kills, 51 assists, eight digs, five blocks and she also recorded her 1,000 assists for her career.
“I don’t want to hear anything about Travis Hudson in this deal, this is about these players,” head coach Travis Hudson said. “Everybody on this team has played a part, everybody on this team has played a part. this is about a culture and about a group of kids that have just found a way in a year that just has not come easy.”
It was a huge night for the seniors Ashley Hood, Avri Davis, Jennifer Rush, Katie Isenbarger, and Lauren Matthews. , playing in their last regular season game in Diddle Arena.
The Hilltoppers were taking on the only other undefeated team in C-USA, the Rice Owls. Every year we’ve come to expect a great matchup and this one was no different.
WKU came out strong in the first set and controlled the Owls fairly easily, picking up the win 25-19.
In the second set, it was tit for tat the whole way. Neither team could pull ahead of the other, so much so that it went into extra set points. Rice was able to finally pull ahead and win the second set 28-26 to tie it at one set a piece.
In the third, WKU had a 21-19 lead before Rice got it together and pushed the Hilltoppers to extra set points again. WKU looked to be reeling but a huge block by Katie Isenbarger gave the Hilltoppers the 2-1 set lead.
But in the fourth, Rice completely dominated the Tops, and at one point were up by double digits before WKU went on a little run to make the Owl’s toes curl. But nonetheless, the Owls won the set 25-17 and sucked the air out of Diddle Arena.
In the fifth set, Rice had a 14-12 lead before Lauren Matthews put the team on her back and brought them to the motherland as she score multiple points back to back to give WKU the set and the win, extending the Hilltoppers conference winning streak, ending the season undefeated in conference play again and winning the C-USA regular season championship for the fourth year in a row.
“I’m just really proud of how we fought back. Like Travis said we were tired,” Lauren Matthews said. “For us to come out in that fifth set like we did..for it to turn out like that, that’s all i could ask for, is for my team to continue to fight back.”
WKU will be the number one seed in the conference USA tournament next week in Diddle Arena.
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