No. 23 WKU continues best start in program history

WKU head coach Travis Hudson yells for his back row to make an adjustment during the match with Southern Miss in Diddle Arena on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019.

Kaden Gaylord

The WKU volleyball team (21-1, 7-0 C-USA) secured its 20th straight season with at least 20 wins this past weekend, defeating Middle Tennessee State (7-13, 1-5 C-USA) and Texas San-Antonio (13-8, 6-2 C-USA) in a pair of clean 3-0 sweeps.

The 23rd-ranked Lady Toppers are currently on a 17-game winning streak and have notched an NCAA-best 15 sweeps this season. The Lady Toppers have continued to add upon the best start in program history, as they’re also the first team in the NCAA to achieve 20 wins in 2019.

“Twenty wins, 20-straight years; I have trouble getting my mind around it,” head coach Travis Hudson said in a postgame release. “I only coached five years before then and two of those were a 7-26 year and 9-22 year so we’ve come an awful long way. It’s great that it’s alumni weekend on the Hill this weekend because this program has always been about all the players that have worn the jersey, and to accomplish something like that that’s been over a 20-year span is pretty special.”

The Lady Toppers started their weekend with a three-set victory at MTSU on Friday.

WKU met its rival for the second time this season, posting a .426 percentage for the game and holding MTSU to .088. MTSU didn’t score over 20 points in any set against WKU, including a scoring output as low as 14 points.

With the win, the Lady Topper volleyball program became the fifth team in NCAA with an active 20-win season streak at 20 seasons or better. The other teams are Nebraska (44), Penn State (42), Florida (28) and Colorado State (24).

WKU then made a quick pit stop in Diddle Arena to face UTSA on Sunday.

The Lady Toppers came out on fire and controlled the game from start to finish, as the Roadrunners only scored 10 points in the first set and 13 in the second. 

UTSA played its best in the third set and got its first lead of the match, but the Roadrunners ultimately lost 25-22 in the final set. 

“We’re really starting to nail down things we know other teams can beat us with so we’re trying to stay a step ahead of everyone else,” senior Emma Kowalkowski said.

Following another winning weekend, WKU will head back on the road for a two-game round trip. The Lady Toppers will meet the two programs that are behind them in service aces — Alabama-Birmingham (11-8, 3-3 C-USA) and Charlotte (12-11, 2-5 C-USA). 

UAB is coming off a 3-0 win against Florida International that saw the Blazers extend their home record to 6-1 on the season.

UAB owns a 23-10 lead in the all-time series between the teams dating back to 1982. 

The Blazers won the first 21 meetings, but WKU is 9-1 in the teams’ last 10 matchups and 7-1 since WKU joined Conference USA.

UAB is currently seventh in hitting percentage and kills, while being in fifth in the conference in opponent hitting percentage.

After the Blazers, WKU will head to Charlotte, North Carolina, to play the 49ers.

WKU owns a 13-3 all-time series lead against the 49ers dating back to 1982. Since joining C-USA WKU is undefeated against Charlotte and holding them to only three set wins in their six matches.

Charlotte isn’t a great offensive team, ranked tenth in the conference in hitting percentage and 11th in assists and kills. The strength of the 49ers comes in the form of their defense, being fourth in opponent hitting percentage and second in blocks.

WKU faces UAB on Friday at 7 p.m. in Bartow Arena and Charlotte on Sunday at noon in Halton Arena.

Reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.