Lady Toppers discuss growth of young players at media day

WKU women’s head coach Travis Hudson cheers on his team as they play against Tennessee State on Tuesday in Diddle Arena.

Matt Stahl

Coming off of another Conference USA championship season, expectations will again be extremely high for WKU’s volleyball program.

Coach Travis Hudson, entering his 24th season as head coach, spent his time on the podium for media day speaking about how he was interested to see the development of the new team, which was voted the preseason favorite in the C-USA coaches poll.

“We’re excited to get started,” Hudson said. “We have no idea what we are just yet. This is a very different year for WKU volleyball. We’re young, we’re inexperienced, we’re trying to figure out who we are in a lot of ways, we’re excited to go play to start answering some questions. I really, really like this team a lot.”


Last season’s Hilltopper squad finished 31-4, including a run through the C-USA Tournament which finished with a win over No. 1 seed North Texas, as well as their time in the NCAA Tournament that saw them carve out a win over Notre Dame before falling to the Kentucky, the number six-ranked team in the nation. WKU graduated a large part of the championship team, including Alyssa Cavanaugh, who was named C-USA Female Athlete of the Year after the season.

“If I played us, I’d want to play us right now,” Hudson said. “I certainly wouldn’t want to play us come mid to late October because we’ve got all the ingredients. We’re talented, we’ve got great kids and they work hard. I’m really strong in my conviction of what we’ll be, I just don’t know when it will be.”

Hudson enters the season grateful to be alive after suffering a serious heart attack during the offseason. Hudson said that given those circumstances, he was excited to see his team grow, even with them being so young.

“Obviously, everybody knows I’m coming off a pretty horrific offseason where the high likelihood was going to be that I wasn’t sitting here as the head coach of this program,” Hudson said. “So to be given the opportunity to be in front them, I’m going to try and do is enjoy this team and get better every day and really cherish the fact that I’m still sitting here as the head volleyball coach at Western Kentucky.”

In 2018 the Hilltoppers will only have five upperclassmen. However, one of those will be senior Rachel Anderson, who was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year. Anderson spoke about her role as a mentor to the younger members of the roster.

“My freshman year Noelle Langenkamp was the middle here and she was just a great role model, person, who she was as a person and on the court,” Anderson said. “That’s definitely something that I’m aiming to do for these younger girls this year. Now that there’s two of them, that’s a little bit more of a role, but I just want to go out and play my game so that they can see how things are done here.”

Another WKU senior, Mary Martin, said that she too was embracing her role as a mentor to the younger players.

“They’re great talent, great girls, I love them a lot as human beings, all around great people,” Martin said. “I think this year, where we’re just jumping right into it, we don’t have a lot of older girls this year, it’s just me and Rachel as the two seniors.”

WKU opens the season on Friday at the College of Charleston Tournament against Alabama.

Reporter Matt Stahl can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @mattstahl97.