BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Four NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago highlight the 2019 WKU Volleyball schedule that features 15 matches inside the confines of Diddle Arena, head coach Travis Hudson and his staff announced Tuesday. The slate includes 29 regular-season matches in addition to the squad’s third-straight preseason exhibition with Kentucky, slated for mid-August.
The 2019 WKU Volleyball campaign will begin in Toledo, Ohio with the Rockets’ Blue & Gold Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 30-31. WKU will open the season with a match against Loyola University Chicago on Friday before playing a twinbill against the hosts and North Dakota State on Saturday.
WKU will open its September slate in state at the Louisville Invitational on Sept. 6-7. The Lady Toppers will take on Arizona State to open the weekend before squaring off against the host Cardinals Friday night. Tournament play will conclude on Saturday with a tilt against Tennessee Tech.
Louisville represents one of nine squads on the Red and White’s 2019 slate that made a postseason appearance last season. After the August exhibition with Kentucky – a Sweet 16 qualifier last season – the Cardinals mark WKU’s first regular-season opponent with postseason experience.
Coach Hudson and company will open their home slate on Tuesday, Sept. 10, with a 6 p.m. CT tilt against Eastern Kentucky. The meeting between the pair of Commonwealth squads will be the first since the sides last met in 1998.
For the second time in as many seasons during the Hudson era, WKU Volleyball will host two non-conference tournaments as the Holiday Inn-University Plaza Invitational and the WKU Volleyball Invitational occupy the third and fourth weekends on the docket. Several high-level programs will visit Diddle Arena as WKU hosts the pair of tournaments including: Bowling Green, Ohio State, Tulane, Northern Kentucky, Tulsa and Samford. All but one of those six squads posted at least 19 wins during their 2018 campaigns.
Between the home tournaments, WKU will make a quick trip down to Belmont for a midweek clash with the Bruins on Sept. 17 in Music City. The Lady Toppers will round out non-conference play a week later when Austin Peay visits The Hill on Sept. 24.
WKU opens the Conference USA portion of its slate on Sunday, Sept. 29 when Southern Miss comes to town. Hudson’s squad will close its seven-match homestand the following weekend when Middle Tennessee and Marshall visit Diddle Arena.
From there, the Lady Topper squad will hit the road for seven of its next nine matches with its only home dates coming against UTSA and UTEP in that span. In WKU’s final conference road trip, the Red and White will visit North Texas and Rice – the only two squads other than WKU to earn at least a share of the league’s regular season title since 2014.
The final weekend of conference play has Louisiana Tech and UAB visiting The Hill for Nov. 14 and Nov. 16 dates with WKU.
The four squads on the slate that appeared in last season’s NCAA Tournament are Kentucky, Louisville, Samford and Rice. UofL and UK both picked up at least one win in The Dance while Samford and Rice made first round exits. Five more of the Lady Toppers’ 2019 opponents made NIVC appearances including Bowling Green, Tulane, Northern Kentucky, Tulsa and North Texas.
Coming off the program’s 19th-straight 20-win season, WKU Volleyball will square off against 27 different teams. Fifteen of those squads turned in winning records during the 2018 campaign while six produced 20-win seasons, including Louisville, Tulane, Northern Kentucky, Austin Peay, Florida Atlantic and Rice.