WKU advances to CUSA Tournament semifinals after sweeping Jacksonville State
Lynchburg, Va. (WBKO) - Now posting a 22-2 record in the league tournament, the one-seed WKU Hilltoppers took care of eight-seed Jacksonville State in a 3-0 sweep, to open the first round on Friday at Liberty. A strong hitting match, the Tops operated with a .386 hitting clip in the morning, led by Paige Briggs with 11 kills, Kaylee Cox with 10, and Kenadee Coyle and Izzy Van De Wiele with five apiece.
Freshman Gabby Weihe was up front with four blocks on the Hilltopper defense, assisted by Coyle and Cox. Defensive specialist Kelsey Brangers led the Red and White in the back row with 13 digs – her first double-digit outing since playing Jax State back on Oct. 7. Off the service line, Briggs took charge with three of the Tops’ six aces.
WKU 3, Jax State 0: 25-12, 25-15, 25-17
An errant serve from the Gamecocks and a shot off the fingertips from Kenadee Coyle got the Tops off and running with a 2-0 start. Both teams traded points back and forth on the board until four straight for the Tops featuring back-to-back blocks for Logan Grevengoed gave a five-point lead. Jax State later took three in a row, called back by three of the Tops’ own for a 10-5 set. A Paige Briggs kill down to the back line followed by a Cameron Mosley service ace and two Izzy Van De Wiele kills took WKU into the media timeout. Briggs brought down another kill, a service ace, and back-to-back Jax State errors garnered a 12-point frame. Both teams rallied on the board through the stretch to 25 – the Hilltopper sending on a Gamecock attacking error to end the set.
Another 2-0 start to the set from a Kenadee Coyle/Gabby Weihe block, the Red and White eventually rallied on four straight points ending on one of three Paige Briggs’ service aces. Both teams shuffled on the board, trading points between each other, never straying from a four-point margin. At the 13-8 mark, the Red and White jumped on a 3-0 run including a kill from Gabby Weihe, solo block from Kaylee Cox, and hitting error on the Gamecocks. After two point to JSU, WKU took care of the sideout with five in a row, ending on a kill from the right off of Coyle. The next six points of the set were split evenly, as the Hilltoppers reached point 23 from a Jax State error. The two volleyed on the board, ending the frame and giving the Tops the lead from a kill off the hand of Cox.
Both teams stayed even-keeled, staying tied for the next three points until the Tops made a 5-1 run capped with a setter dump from Callie Bauer. The Gamecocks would take some control back with a 3-1 run, featuring back-to-back kills from Kathryn Smith, but the Hilltoppers ran 7-1 straight into the media timeout. In the run, Paige Briggs and libero Abby Schaefer tagged for a pair of aces, while Izzy Van De Wiele picked up her fourth kill of the morning. A kill off of JSU’s Maddie Stayer cut the run short, not before four straight points and three kills in a row for outside hitter Kaylee Cox. The Gamecocks then took points 10-13 in a straight run to throw off the Hilltopper offense. The two conference opponents later rallied the rest of the way out, cutting off at 23-17 until the Tops picked up the match from a Gabby Wiehe kill to move to the CUSA Tournament semifinals.
The Tops will play UTEP in the semifinals tomorrow at 10 a.m. CT.
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