Milestones in Miami: 19-1 start is best in WKU volleyball program history

Members of the WKU volleyball and soccer teams pose for a group picture at FIU Soccer Stadium after both programs secured milestone victories in Miami on Oct. 13, 2019.

Kaden Gaylord

The WKU volleyball team (19-1, 5-0 C-USA) set a new record for the best start in program history over the weekend, knocking off Florida Atlantic (9-7, 3-2 C-USA) and Florida International (9-7, 2-3 C-USA) and ending two sizable home winning streaks.

The 2019 Lady Toppers have eclipsed the previous program-best 18-1 opening posted in 2005 and are currently on a 15-game winning streak.

WKU has also notched an NCAA-best 13 sweeps this season, helping the Lady Toppers earn a No. 24 ranking in the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll released on Monday afternoon after receiving votes for several weeks.

No. 24 WKU currently has the second-best winning percentage in the nation at .950, trailing only undefeated No. 1 Baylor (15-0).

“This was a tough road trip for sure,” head coach Travis Hudson said in a postgame release. “We faced two quality teams and logged a lot of miles traveled. I thought we came with great energy today and were able to set the tone early in the match. I’m proud of our effort.”

On the way to its NCAA-best 19th win of the season, WKU snapped FAU’s 21- game home winning streak — the second longest in the country — on Friday and FIU’s 14-match home winning streak— tied for sixth longest in the country — on Sunday.

WKU started its weekend with a four-set victory over FAU on Friday.

After losing the opening set for just the fourth time this season, WKU won three straight sets to defeat the Owls 3-1. So far in 2019, the Lady Toppers have come back to win all but one of the contests where the team dropped the first set to their opposition.

“I am really proud of our kids,” Hudson said in a postgame release. “There is a reason why Florida Atlantic had a home win streak of over 20 matches. They are a very talented, well-coached team.”

Freshman Paige Briggs posted a match-high 17 kills with 12 digs for her 10th double-double of the season. Sophomore Lauren Matthews was right behind her with 15 kills and five blocks.

The Lady Toppers continued their dominant run with a clean 3-0 sweep over FIU on Sunday.

WKU controlled the game defensively, as the Lady Toppers have against most opponents this season. The Lady Toppers kept FIU to a hitting percentage under .100 for two of the three sets, allowing the Panthers to hit .063 for the game compared to the .283 mark posted by WKU.

The Lady Toppers were in command on offense as well, putting up 42 kills with 14 errors compared to FIU’s 29 kills with 23 errors.

Matthews led the team with 14 kills and four blocks, while senior Sophia Cerino had seven kills, two aces, three blocks and three digs against the Panthers.

WKU hasn’t lost since a single match since a 3-1 defeat at the hands of then No. 24 Louisville in the Fleur De Lis Tournament in Louisville on Sept. 6.

Following two more decisive victories, WKU will conclude its road trip at Middle Tennessee State (7-12, 1-4 C-USA) on Friday night before returning home to Diddle Arena to host Texas-San Antonio (12-7, 5-1 C-USA) on Sunday afternoon.

The Lady Toppers will see MTSU for the second time this season in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

In their first matchup this season, the Lady Toppers defeated the Blue Raiders 3-1 and extended their winning streak against MTSU to 12 games since 2011.

WKU didn’t allow MTSU to score over 17 points in any of the Lady Toppers’ set wins. WKU also kept the Blue Raiders at a .333 hitting percentage or less in every set, including a -.222 percentage in the fourth set. The Lady Toppers outscored the Blue Raiders 50-36 in kills.

The Roadrunners are among the league’s best teams so far in 2019. WKU and UTSA have met just seven times in the all-time series’ short history, with WKU claiming six of those meetings.

UTSA won the first-ever matchup in 2014, but the Roadrunners have lost every match since. Of those six WKU wins, five of them have been won in four sets, while the other was a sweep.

Game time against MTSU is set for Friday at 6 p.m. in Alumni Memorial Gym, while game time against UTSA is set for noon on Sunday in Diddle Arena.

Reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at [email protected] Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.