Third straight loss drops Lady Toppers to sixth in C-USA

WKU’s Sophia Cerino (23) serves the ball during a home game against North Texas on Friday, Oct. 19. This match was the Lady Toppers’ third straight lost.

Casey McCarthy

WKU dropped its third straight match for the first time since the 2008 season on Friday, as North Texas swept the Lady Toppers at home 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-23).

After losing five players to graduation last year, the Lady Toppers haven’t been without their struggles in moving on. The loss drops WKU to 14-9 (5-3 Conference USA). The Lady Toppers’ four home losses this season are the most they’ve had in a single season in over a decade. After the rematch of last season’s C-USA Championship, head coach Travis Hudson said both teams have faced struggles this season.

“We’re both a lot alike,” Hudson said. “We were the two elite teams in the league last year, and each lost a lot to graduation and are playing a lot of young kids.

After beginning conference play 3-0, WKU has lost four of its last six matches. The Lady Toppers have not lost more than three games in conference play since 2009, which was one of only two seasons WKU has missed the NCAA Tournament in the past decade.

Four of WKU’s final six matches are on the road this year. Of the Lady Toppers’ nine losses this season, five have come away from Diddle Arena.

WKU is still getting successful performances despite the losing streak. Senior Rachel Anderson led the Lady Toppers in kills for the 16th time this season, finishing with 12. Sophomore Kayland Jackson added eight as WKU was able to lead the kills column in the match, 41-36. North Texas held the advantage in hitting percentage, .337 to .158.

Freshman Payton Frederick finished with 10 digs, her 12th consecutive match with double-digit digs. Redshirt freshman Taylor Bebout filled up the stat sheet, finishing with 33 assists, four kills, four digs and three aces.

The Lady Toppers also dropped a non-conference matchup to Austin Peay on the road Oct. 16. The loss marked the first time WKU dropped a match that reached a fifth set this season, as the Lady Toppers were 4-0 in five-set matches prior to the loss. The Lady Toppers had also won three consecutive away matches prior to that, going undefeated on the road for over a month.

Though the Lady Toppers saw success against the Governors, leading the match in kills, hitting percentage and digs, they were still unable to secure a victory in the contest.

Anderson led the way for the Lady Toppers in kills with 17, adding six blocks. Junior Sophia Cerino added 13, her ninth match with double-digit kills this season.  

Defensively, Frederick led the team with 21 digs, while sophomore Darby Music finished with 13.  

The Lady Toppers will take a Texas road trip to start the final six-game stretch this weekend. WKU will take on Texas-El Paso Friday before closing out the weekend road trip with a match Sunday against Texas-San Antonio.

The Lady Toppers have six matches remaining, all of which are in conference play. WKU currently sits sixth in the conference standings.