Lady Toppers drop second straight home conference match

WKU’s Hallie Shelton (12) hits the ball past the UAB defense during a match at Diddle Arena on October 12, 2018.

Casey McCarthy

For the first time since the 1999 season, the Lady Toppers dropped a second straight home conference match as WKU fell short against Alabama-Birmingham on Friday.

The Blazers (11-9, 3-3) defeated WKU 3-1 in four sets (25-22, 25-23, 17-25, 25-17) as the Lady Toppers move to 14-7, 5-2 this season.

“We’re young and it’s been a long, hard grind for them, and I talked before the match about being worried that his team was gonna wear them mentally a little bit,” head coach Travis Hudson said. “We have eight matches left to find ourselves a little bit. We’re not playing good volleyball, and we haven’t been playing good volleyball for the last few weeks.”

Three of the Lady Toppers’ seven losses this season have come at home. That matches the total number of home losses WKU had from 2013-2017. WKU has not lost three home matches in a season since 2010.

UAB managed to take the first two sets of the match that were decided by a combined five points. The first two sets featured 19 ties and seven lead changes. WKU managed to win the third set before the Blazers closed the match out in the fourth after a 7-0 run with the set at 12-10.

Senior Rachel Anderson reached a career milestone in the match, surpassing 400 blocks in her career on the Hill. Anderson’s four blocks were enough to push her into third on the program’s all-time block leaders.  

Hudson said Anderson is a player who has been a “stat stuffer” her whole career.

“She’s had a tremendous career, and her offense often outshines what she’s doing on the defensive side,” Hudson said, “but she’s been an improved blocker throughout her career and has turned into one of the better blockers in Conference USA.”

The loss marked the first time UAB has defeated WKU since the Lady Toppers joined C-USA. With the loss, WKU now sits in a three-way tie for third in the conference standings with Florida Atlantic and Florida International. All three teams are 5-2 in conference play. WKU is 14-7 overall.  

Junior Sophia Cerino led the way for the Lady Toppers offensively with 10 kills. Freshman Lauren Matthews added nine while Anderson had eight. Defensively, freshman Payton Frederick notched double-digit kills for the 11th straight match with 16. Sophomore Darby Music added 10.

The Lady Toppers will take a break from C-USA play when they go to Clarksville, Tennessee, to take on Austin Peay on Tuesday.

WKU will return to conference play when North Texas visits Diddle Arena on Friday. That game will feature free admission to all fans. WKU has seven conference games remaining before the C-USA Tournament begins.

Reporter Casey McCarthy can be reached at (270)-929-7795 and [email protected]