BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO)-- Led by seniors Rachel Anderson and Mary Martin in their final match at Diddle Arena, Western Kentucky volleyball took down second-place Florida Atlantic with a 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Lady Toppers won set won 25-20 before the Owls knotted the match with a 29-27 set two victory. Following the break, WKU took 25-20 and 26-24 decisions to claim the contest.
“Well we played at a championship level today and that’s what is exciting,” head coach Travis Hudson opened. “We’ve been fighting for that all year. A little bit of confidence is starting to creep in with these kids down the stretch. We played at a really high level, Florida Atlantic is a fantastic team and we knew we had to play well to be in. You just hope with a young team, as I said way back in August, you hope by the end you are starting to play pretty good volleyball and that seems to be what we are doing.”
Anderson and Martin gave the Lady Topper faithful an impressive farewell, as Anderson tallied 15 kills and seven blocks and Martin recorded 47 assists, her most in an outing this season. Martin also added 11 digs for her first double-double performance of the season.
“Our community is amazing, the love and support and encouragement we get from all of them and I can't explain it, it's great," Anderson said what playing at WKU means to her. "I'm happy our season isn't over and it hasn't really hit me yet, but it was a great turnout and it was just a great day for us.”
It was Anderson's ace in the corner of the court to give WKU the match point.
“What a script, the kid is an All-American, in her last match on Diddle Arena’s court, on senior day and she serves an ace to win it,” Hudson said of Anderson’s ace. “You can’t draw it up any better than that. It felt like that ball hung up in the air forever but when it feel it was really a cool moment.”
With the victory, the Lady Toppers picked up their fourth-straight win while concluding its 2018 home slate with an 11-4 record. WKU improved to 18-9 overall and 9-3 in league play with the victory. On the contrary, Florida Atlantic moved to 19-6 overall and 9-3 in C-USA action.
Leading WKU in kills on the day was junior Cerino, who racked up 16 in the four-set victory while hitting .387. She added a career-high six aces including three in the third set alone in addition to three digs and a block.
Lauren Matthews finished with nine kills on the day along with two digs and two blocks. Kayland Jackson added a pair of blocks along with six kills for the Lady Toppers as well.
Facilitating the offense from start to finish was Martin who racked up her second career double-double. In addition to her 47 assists and 11 digs, the Lexington, Ky., native tallied three kills, a block, and an ace. While the offense worked at a collective .264 rate, Martin saw 49-percent of her sets find the floor for kills.
“In my heart I just felt like she was, we've been back and forth between those two setters a lot and they’re very close in terms of what they give us,” Hudson shared of the decision to start Martin. “Taylor Bebout has been playing pretty well lately but it’s Senior Day and Mary is someone who means so much to her teammates and I just felt in my heart that putting her on the court was going to give us a lift today and she went out and that's the best I've ever seen her play. Again, what better script can you write for two seniors on Senior Day than to finish it the way they did?”
From the service line, WKU racked up a season-best 13 aces. The last time WKU reached that mark was back on Oct. 14, 2016 in a four-set win over UAB.
With its home schedule complete, WKU will hit the road for the final week of conference play. On Thursday, the Lady Toppers will look to spoil UAB’s senior day before the squad heads to Ruston, La., to visit Louisiana Tech on Sunday.