Lady Topper volleyball voted regular season favorites, Matthews predicted to win C-USA Player of the Year

Lauren Matthews going up for a hit against Alabama-Birmingham in Diddle Arena on Nov. 7, 2020. 

Nick Kieser

Lady Topper volleyball begins on Feb. 7 against Florida Atlantic. WKU was picked Thursday to win the Conference USA East Division. Junior Lauren Matthews has been slated as C-USA’s Preseason Player of the Year. 

The 2021 schedule can be found here.

{{tncms-inline account=”Todd Stewart” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Champions of Conference USA in 5 of the last 6 seasons, <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUVolleyball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKUVolleyball</a> beginning this season in a familiar place! <a href="https://t.co/X1zcTXilmO">https://t.co/X1zcTXilmO</a></p>— Todd Stewart (@ToddStewartWKU) <a href="https://twitter.com/ToddStewartWKU/status/1349804925371379713?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 14, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/ToddStewartWKU/status/1349804925371379713″ type=”twitter”}}

Additionally, Matthews, sophomore Paige Briggs, and senior Nadia Dieudonne were tabbed to the C-USA All-Conference team ahead of the 2021 portion of the season. 

Last season, the Lady Toppers went 32-2 overall, and had a perfect 14-0 record in C-USA play. The program lost in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament to the University of Louisville 3-2. 

WKU won their first regular-season bout against Alabama-Birmingham on Nov. 7, sweeping the set 3-0 entering the rest of C-USA play. No games have been played since then

Briggs was named C-USA’s Freshman of the Year last season. Now she has been voted to the preseason All-Conference team. She totaled 388 kills to go with 344 digs, 40 blocks and 27 aces last season.

Going into her junior season, Matthews led the NCAA last season in hitting percentage with .448. She tallied 470 kills a season ago and 139 blocks. Matthews earned AVCA South Region Player of the Year honors before being named an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American in 2019.

Dieudonne assisted the Lady Toppers to a team collective .301 hitting percentage in 2019, which was second place in the entire NCAA. She registered 1,296 assists along with 270 digs, 95 kills and 41 block assists – all of which are career highs for the senior just a season ago.

Listed below are C-USA’s Preseason Polls for the respective programs this season. 

Preseason Poll

East Division 

1. WKU

2. Marshall

3. Florida Atlantic

4. Charlotte

5. Middle Tennessee

6. FIU

7. Old Dominion

West Division 

1. Rice

2. North Texas

3. UTSA

4. UTEP

5. UAB

6. Louisiana Tech

7. Southern Miss

Full C-USA Preseason Team

{{tncms-inline account=”Conference USA” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">📢: Announcing your 2021 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CUSAVB?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CUSAVB</a> Preseason All-Conference Team as voted on by the league’s coaches! 🏐 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheCUSAWay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheCUSAWay</a>🗞 | <a href="https://t.co/fl7wUEANO4">https://t.co/fl7wUEANO4</a> <a href="https://t.co/TmCaVoxYFI">pic.twitter.com/TmCaVoxYFI</a></p>— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) <a href="https://twitter.com/ConferenceUSA/status/1349794034211037185?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 14, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/ConferenceUSA/status/1349794034211037185″ type=”twitter”}}

Preseason Player of the Year

Lauren Matthews, WKU

{{tncms-inline account=”Conference USA” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">📢: Congratulations to <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUVolleyball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKUVolleyball</a>’s Lauren Matthews, your 2021 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CUSAVB?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CUSAVB</a> Preseason Player of the Year as voted on by the league’s coaches! 🏐 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheCUSAWay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheCUSAWay</a> <a href="https://t.co/e3NVEOOyZ0">pic.twitter.com/e3NVEOOyZ0</a></p>— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) <a href="https://twitter.com/ConferenceUSA/status/1349793656438484994?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 14, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/ConferenceUSA/status/1349793656438484994″ type=”twitter”}}

Sports Editor Nick Kieser can be reached at [email protected] Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.