Matthews' Big Night Leads Tops to Home-Opening Sweep of EKU

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Bowling Green, Ky. (WBKO) --- WKU Volleyball sophomore Lauren Matthews put on a show in E.A. Diddle Arena in the Lady Toppers’ home-opening sweep over Eastern Kentucky. Matthews, along with freshman Paige Briggs, led the Red and White with 12 kills each while WKU worked at a scorching .362 offensive clip while holding the Colonels to a .131 mark.

"It's been a great start so far,” head coach Travis Hudson shared following the victory. “But it's been a great start because I love how our kids approach it every day. Wins and losses aren't going to tell the whole story. In terms of what we're capable of this season, I think this upcoming weekend will be a real barometer of where we are. There’s nothing that can happen with our team right now that's going to disappoint me for long. I may be disappointed in the short term, but I know what we've got in that locker room in terms of talent and work ethic and all of those things."

With the victory in their first match on The Hill, WKU Volleyball improved to 6-1 on the young season while recording its fourth sweep. EKU fell to 3-4 with the setback.

With a hitting percentage of .800, Matthews tied for fourth in WKU’s single-match ranks. Alyssa Cavanaugh owns the record at .818, set in WKU’s home-opener back in 2017.

WKU wasted no time getting out ahead, jumping out to a 12-4 lead in the opening frame. The Lady Toppers would continue their offensive tear to a 22-9 advantage before claiming the 25-13 decision. As a group, WKU racked up 19 kills on 29 attacks for a scorching .552 rating. Briggs notched five kills on seven swings in the frame while adding seven digs.

Action in set two opened the same way as WKU jumped out to a 6-1 lead. Matthews eighth kill of the match pushed the Tops’ advantage to 11-5. From there, WKU surged to a 25-14 second-set victory for a 2-0 lead heading into the break. WKU accounted for three of its five blocks in set two, with Matthews getting her hand on each of them. WKU tallied four aces in the frame, including a pair by sophomore Ashley Hood.

Out of the break, EKU held the Tops to their lowest attack rating of the night at just a .219 clip, but WKU still registered 13 kills in the 25-18 win. WKU was the first to double-digits in the frame with a 10-7 lead before pulling ahead to a 20-13 advantage. Briggs added four kills in the final frame while Katie Isenbarger delivered two of her three aces on the night in the set.

"We talked as a team and focused on us and doing our job better, and I think that worked out,” Briggs said of the team’s victory. “Everyone did their jobs and we came away with the win."

WKU’s .362 hitting clip is the squad’s best mark since hitting .398 against Toledo in the second match of the season.

In addition to her 12 kills and team-best 15 digs, Briggs added a pair of service aces. The double-double was her fourth performance of the seven-match season. The Ortonville, Mich., native also worked at a .455 hitting percentage – a new career high.

"Paige Briggs is one of those real special talents that we've ever brought here,” Hudson added. “She's going to have her ups and downs, but you see what she's capable of - she can do a lot of things. She plays fantastic defense as well as being a good offensive player. We’re sure glad to have her and she's going to have a bright future."

Nadia Dieudonne shared setting duties with Taylor Bebout in the contest. Dieudonne posted 27 assists and three digs to go along with four kills. Bebout tallied four assists and a dig during her time on the court.

HUDSON ON BEING HOME IN DIDDLE ARENA:
"It's good to be home, and we're going to be home for a while. We have 11 out of 12 here in the friendly confines of Diddle Arena, and we've been pretty good in this place. It’s nice to sleep in our own beds and one of the things it gives us the benefit of is a little bit extra practice time. Because now instead of Thursday being a travel day, Thursday we can squeeze another practice in. And with a young team, those things are vitally important - in fact, they might be the most important thing of all."

NEXT TIME OUT:
Hilltopper fans won’t have to wait long to see WKU Volleyball back in Diddle Arena as the team will be home on The Hill for 10 of its next 11 matches beginning with this weekend’s Holiday Inn University Plaza Hotel Invitational. More information for that two-day event can be found here.



 
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