No. 23 Tops sweep Middle Tennessee
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - An impressive .443 collective hitting clip led the Tops to their 15th conference win over regional rival Middle Tennessee. The defeat over the current second-place standing team in the league was led by Paige Briggs and Kaylee Cox on the outside, and setter Callie Bauer in an offensive charge over the net.
Off the block, the Hilltoppers stuffed seven compared to the Blue Raiders’ three, upheld by freshman Izzy Van De Wiele who earned her fourth career start on the court in the middle. Steady serving from the line also drove in points for the team from Bowling Green. Serving specialist Katie Howard collected four of the Hilltoppers’ seven aces, as Briggs and Cox also notched points from the service line.
WKU 3, Middle Tennessee 0: 25-19, 25-21, 25-16
A shot from Kaylee Cox on the line kicked off the meeting between the two rivals as they rallied points back-and-forth on the board with five set ties. A 4-1 drive from the Hilltoppers included kills from Cox and Paige Briggs and the first block of the evening stuffed by Callie Bauer and Logan Grevengoed, that marked a heavy Tops stretch that Middle Tennessee couldn’t catch up to. A five-point match was decided on three straight from the Red and White: a push kicked off by a setter dump from Bauer, kill off the right from Kenadee Coyle, and stuff block featuring Coyle and Izzy Van De Wiele. The teams would trade on the board, never straying from a heavy run until a 4-1 lead gave WKU the 23-17 point in the frame. A Blue Raider service error would give the ball back to the Tops and a solo stuff at the net for Van De Wiele would cap off the first set.
Back-to-back Hilltopper points would give WKU the lead that the Blue Raiders couldn’t catch up to. A setter dump from Bauer and Katie Howard service ace would bring up a three-point match. WKU and Middle Tennessee rallied up the board, trading points and never straying from three points until back-to-back points for the Raiders brought a one-score set. Momentum set in for the Tops, as a Paige Briggs kill to the back row would kick off five straight and force MTSU to burn a timeout. The Blue Raiders later called back with three of their own, capped by a kill from Kaylee Oscarson. After a volley of points, three straight Blue Raider errors would lead the Hilltoppers to hit 20 points in the frame. Middle would fight back, capping on a 4-1 run to be within three of the Tops. After persistent points back-and-forth, a kill from Briggs would seal up the frame.
WKU jumped to a 5-1 start out of the beginning, as Blue Raider head coach Chuck Crawford used a timeout early after a pair of aces from Katie Howard. After Middle fought back for two more on the board, a Callie Bauer kill of the assist from Kelsey Brangers would drive a 6-0 run for the Red and White – the largest scoring run of the match. At the 11-3 mark, MTSU would use another timeout before they called back six of their own, forcing WKU to call time. Out of the break, Paige Briggs would gain a kill off the left side before Van De Wiele completed a solo stuff at the net. Briggs would later garner back-to-back aces, her only two of the match, to capitalize on four Hilltopper points. The Tops and Blue Raiders would go back-and-forth on the board the rest of the way out to 25. MTSU gave WKU match point off of a service error before a shot from Coyle on the right side off of a Blue Raider net violation would give the sweep.
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