WKU sweeps EKU in home opener, looks ahead to weekend tournament

WKU’s Paige Briggs (1) spikes the ball during a home game against Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. This match moved the Lady Toppers to 6-1 on the season.

Kaden Gaylord

The WKU volleyball team (6-1) defeated Eastern Kentucky (3-4) in a clean 3-0 sweep to secure its first home win in Diddle Arena. The sweep was the Lady Toppers’ fourth of the season.

“This is a team with a lot of potential — we’re just trying to put pieces in the puzzle as quick as we can,” head coach Travis Hudson said postgame. “Some days will be better than others, some days we’ll play better than others, but I like this team a lot and I like how hard they work. I look forward to continuing to move forward with them.”

The Lady Toppers jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead in the opening frame before EKU took its first timeout. The break didn’t help the Colonels, as they were outscored for the rest of the set 13-9.


WKU won the first set, 25-13

True freshman Paige Briggs helped set the tone for the Lady Toppers early, as she totaled five kills and seven digs in the first set. 

WKU jumped off to a big lead in the second set, going up 7-1 before EKU took another timeout to stall the pressure. Later, the Colonels took another timeout down 18-10 to try to stop the bleeding.

But EKU failed to mount a comeback, as the Lady Toppers scored seven of the last 11 points to claim the second set, 25-14.

WKU tallied four aces in the frame preceding the break, including a pair by sophomore Ashley Hood.

EKU took an early lead in the third set, but WKU snatched the lead back from its opposition very quickly. The Colonels kept it close, scoring more points than they’d tallied in any set the whole night with 18.

EKU kept pushing to steal the third frame, but the Lady Toppers wound up taking a comfortable 25-18 win in the third set to secure yet another 3-0 sweep for the Lady Toppers — the team’s second straight.

WKU produced a .362 offensive clip while managing to hold the Colonels to a .131 mark. The Lady Toppers’ .362 hitting clip was the squad’s best mark since hitting .398 against Toledo in a 3-0 win on Aug. 31.

Junior transfer Nadia Dieudonne had four kills and 27 assists, while sophomore Lauren Matthews had 12 kills and posted a .800 hitting percentage.

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

Briggs secured her fourth double-double in six games with 12 kills and team-best 15 digs against the Colonels. She also added a pair of service aces and worked at a .455 hitting percentage — a new career-high mark.

“I didn’t think I would be such a big impact player on this team,” Briggs said postgame. “But I’m glad I am.”

Following the win, WKU will compete in its third tournament of the season this weekend in the Holiday Inn University Plaza Invitational.

The tournament is the first of two the Lady Toppers will host at home in Diddle Arena during the 2019 season.

The Lady Toppers’ first matchup will be against the Bowling Green — not Kentucky — Falcons. Bowling Green currently sits at 5-2 after a slow 1-2 start to the season where the Falcons lost two games in the Golden Dome Invitational at Notre Dame.

But Bowling Green is coming off a tournament win in the Hampton Inn Bowling Green Invitational, where the Falcons won all three of their games — including a clean 3-0 sweep over Conference USA member Charlotte.

Before making their way to the Hill, the Falcons plated a road game at Oakland on Tuesday night and claimed a close 3-2 victory. The game between the Lady Toppers and Falcons will take place on Friday at 11 a.m.

WKU’s second matchup will come against Ohio State. The two teams have only faced three times, with the Buckeyes holding a 2-1 lead. The Lady Toppers defeated the Big 10 team the last time the two schools met. In that match, WKU snagged a clean 3-0 sweep over its Power 5 opposition in 2017.

OSU is currently 3-3 after losing two of its last three matchups, including a 3-0 loss to the No. 10 Pittsburgh Panthers on Sept. 6. Game time between WKU and OSU is set for Friday night at 7 p.m.

The Lady Toppers’ final matchup of the weekend will be against the Tulane Green Wave. The two teams haven’t faced each other since Nov. 7, 1986. where the Green Wave won 2-0 over WKU. To date, that meeting was the only time the two schools have ever faced each other.

Tulane is currently 6-2 after winning all three games of the Doubletree Classic and winning two out of three in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Volleyball Classic.

The Green Wave met New Orleans on Tuesday night and claimed a 3-1 victory over the Privateers before the team heads to the Hill this weekend. Tulane and WKU are set to square off on Saturday evening at 6 p.m.

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