Lady Toppers miss on opportunities in Saint Louis tournament

Outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh (7), spikes the ball against UTEP Miners gaining a point for the lady toppers on Fri. Oct. 20, 2017 at Diddle Arena. The lady toppers won all three sets, bringing home WKU another win.

Casey McCarthy

WKU volleyball opened the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic against host Saint Louis with a sweep, and the team’s third straight win, before dropping the final two matches to close out the weekend.

The Lady Toppers (3-4) have played six of their first seven matches on the road to begin the 2018 campaign.

“For the first time all year I didn’t like the level we competed at,” head coach Travis Hudson said in a press release Saturday. “We had some good opportunities across today’s matches and didn’t take advantage of them. We simply make too many mistakes right now to give ourselves a chance against high-level opponents.”

The WKU offense stayed hot to start the weekend against Saint Louis in the 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-18) win. WKU finished with 42 kills on only five errors for a .463 hitting clip.  The Lady Topper defense stifled the Billikens, finishing with 39 digs as a team and holding their opponent to a .105 clip.

Freshman Katie Isenbarger and sophomore Hallie Shelton led the Lady Toppers in kills with 10, a career high for both. Isenbarger led the team in blocks for the second-straight match with three. Junior Emma Kowalkowski led the WKU defense with 14 digs.

WKU opened its double header against Marquette, who Hudson called possibly the toughest opponent the Lady Toppers will face all season. The Lady Toppers fell 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-22) in a back-and-forth match.  

Junior Sophia Cerino led WKU in kills for the first time with nine, while redshirt freshman Taylor Bebout led the defensive side with 10 digs.

The Lady Toppers finished out the weekend against Kansas State, the first meeting between the two programs.  Despite leading the match in both kills and digs, the Lady Toppers fell to the Wildcats 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 26-28, 25-17). The Lady Toppers were able to grab the third set to avoid their second sweep of the day, a set that saw 12 ties and five lead changes between the teams.

Three WKU players finished the match with double-digit kills, with Isenbarger leading the way with 13 to topple her career high set the day before. Four Lady Toppers finished with double-digit digs against the Wildcats, with freshman Payton Frederick leading the way with 16.

Senior Rachel Anderson was named to the All-Tournament Team for the second straight weekend. Bebout continues to facilitate the offense for WKU, leading the team in assists in all three matches over the weekend.

Bebout recorded her first college double-double in the pair of matches Saturday, registering 23 assists and 10 digs against Marquette and 31 assists and 12 digs against Kansas State.  

After playing the majority of their matches to open the season away from home, they will play their next nine matches in Diddle Arena. The Lady Toppers kick off their home-stretch against Chattanooga at 11 a.m. Friday in the first of two straight weekend tournaments.

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