No. 23 Hilltopper Volleyball earns 74th consecutive regular season conference victory
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Marking another perfect streak in regular season conference play, the No. 23 WKU Hilltoppers downed Middle Tennessee, 3-1, on their senior day Saturday afternoon. Service aces and blocks captivated the Tops on the scoreboard: WKU stuffed double the number of blocks against the Blue Raiders, while picking up seven total aces from the line.
Paige Briggs inched to a double-double, as her 17 kill, seven dig performance as a six-rotation player led the Hilltopper offense as she worked with a .366 hitting clip. Freshman Izzy Van De Wiele hit a career-high 12 kills in an error-less match to drum up .750 hitting. In the back row, libero Abby Schaefer got back on track with double-digit digs in a 17-dig performance to lead the Tops’ defense.
WKU 3, Middle Tennessee 1: 25-20, 18-25, 28-26, 25-17
A kill and block assist from Logan Grevengoed kicked off a 2-0 start for round two with the Hilltoppers and Blue Raiders. MTSU gained the advantage with a 4-1 run ended on to back-to-back service aces to gain a one-point advantage. Running up the board, WKU and MTSU ran up four points each to later rally on the court before a Tops’ run that held them the lead. A setter dump from Callie Bauer kicked off four straight for the Red and White, followed by a shot from the right from Kenadee Coyle, ace from Bauer, and stuffed block from Coyle and Izzy Van De Wiele to give a two-point lead. More rallying on the board, would turn for the Tops to hit three straight points, followed by two back-to-back off of another pair of a Grevengoed kill and block assist. Middle Tennessee would edge on a 3-1 drive, until Bauer tricked the Blue Raider front line to dump the ball over and win the set.
A battle out of the beginning, Middle Tennessee got a heavy 5-2 start capped by three straight against the Hilltopper defense. MTSU held the lead the rest of the way, even against a hefty 3-0 run with kills from Kaylee Cox and Logan Grevengoed to bring the score within one. Later in the set, a 6-2 run from the blue team would force WKU to burn a timeout. A kill off the right from Coyle would start a 4-1 drive to inch against Middle to set point. The Blue Raiders would march on four kills, three of which coming from hitter Adri Rhoda, took the set and tied the match.
The third frame would turn to be a nail-biter as both teams evened out and fought for the match lead. Both teams stayed close, trading points back-and-forth for the next 12 points until MTSU ran on three in a row before the Tops called back on three of their own. The Blue Raiders’ Adri Rhoda and Dasia Smith would go back-to-back on kills for a one-point advantage, before a Van De Wiele kill and block from Cox and Coyle would draw the lead to the Hilltoppers. Both teams would trade points on the board and accumulate three ties until a 4-1 run from two Hilltopper attacking errors and back-to-back kills from MTSU’s Laure Jansen would give Middle set point. In comeback fashion and drive, the Hilltoppers ran on four straight points featuring kills from Grevengoed and Briggs, a stuff block, and a service ace off the hand of Cox to force Middle Tennessee head coach Chuck Crawford to burn two timeouts. Going into extra points, WKU would top off on three straight points, ending on a Callie Bauer service ace to give the Hilltoppers’ the match lead.
Middle Tennessee gained the first two on the board before both opponents would rally consecutively as the Tops would drive in a 6-2 scoring run. Holding onto the two-point lead, the Blue Raiders collected their final tie of the match with two back-to-back shots from their outside hitters. WKU would hold a narrow one-point lead for the next 16 points on the board. After a kill by the Blue Raiders’ Kayla Henley, WKU would sideout the rest of the set for their longest run of the match: seven straight. A Blue Raider service error would kick of the run, followed by back-to-back blocks featuring Van De Wiele, two more Paige Briggs kills, and two more Callie Bauer aces to hold MTSU to only 17 points in Alumni Memorial Gym.
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