Hudson wins 600th as WKU sweeps MTSU in Conference USA opener

Western Kentucky coach Travis Hudson claimed his 600th victory Friday night and the Lady Toppers opened Conference USA play with a 3-0 sweep of rival Middle Tennessee.

The Lady Toppers improved to 10-5 and 1-0 in league play while the Blue Raiders fell to 4-9 and 0-1. The victory marked the Lady Topper program’s 56-consecutive win over a conference opponent inside E.A. Diddle Arena.

First set action saw the Lady Toppers and Blue Raiders trading blows as neither side gained a clear advantage. Prior to a 5-1 scoring run by WKU late in the set, neither side led by more than three points.

Rachel Anderson and Lauren Matthews each registered four kills on eight swings in the frame as WKU claimed the 25-21 first-set victory.

WKU wasted no time in set two by jumping out to a 5-0 advantage. The Lady Toppers were the first to double digits with a 10-3 margin.

Middle used its second timeout trailing 15-6 in the frame as WKU worked to a 25-14 victory – matching its largest margin of victory in a frame on the season. WKU’s block doubled its efforts in the second set, pushing its match total to six.

Out of the break, Middle Tennessee grabbed a 4-2 advantage before the Lady Toppers would respond with a 5-0 run and would never look back en route to a 25-19 third-set victory. WKU worked at its best offensive clip of the night with a .314 rate in the frame.

Katie Isenbarger led the way with four kills in the final set.

Matthews led the WKU squad with nine kills while Anderson had eight. Taylor Bebout, Isenbarger and Sophia Cerino each finished with five while Kayland Jackson added four and Hallie Shelton chipped in one.

Payton Frederick notched her fourth-straight match with double-digit digs, finishing with a team-best 11. Shelton added seven while Emma Kowalkowski recorded six.

At the net, Matthews notched a career-best five blocks – two solo, three assist – to lead WKU in the category for the first time of her career. Anderson added four while Jackson chipped in three.

Western will close out its homestand at noon Sunday against Charlotte.