Lady Toppers sign three players for 2018

Clay Manlove

With big shoes to fill after graduating five seniors in 2017, the Lady Toppers will bring three fresh faces to the lineup in 2018. 

On Wednesday, WKU announced the signing of libero Payton Frederick, middle hitter Katie Isenbarger and middle hitter Lauren Matthews.

“We’re just super excited about this upcoming class,” WKU head coach Travis Hudson said in a press release. “It’s a great combination of talent and athleticism.”

Frederick is a libero from Assumption High School in Louisville, the alma mater of current Lady Topper outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh.

While starring for the Rockets from 2015-2017, Frederick helped the team to a pair of district titles, a pair of region crowns and two state championships, including Sunday’s win over Mercy Academy for Assumption’s 20th state title.

“I formed a great relationship with the coaching staff at WKU and fell in love with the campus,” Frederick said in Wednesday’s presser.

Frederick landed on the AVCA Under Armour All-American list and was tabbed an All-District player for Assumption in 2016.

Frederick’s mother, the former Cindy Edlin, lettered for the Lady Toppers from 1985-1987 under then head coach Charlie Daniels 

“Payton is one of the absolute biggest winners that I’ve ever watched play this game,” Hudson said. “She is a tremendously skilled individual at the libero position, and she’s maybe the most determined competitor I can ever remember seeing at that stage. 

Isenbarger hails from Zionsville High School in Zionsville, Ind., where she will also be competing in basketball and track & field before joining the Lady Toppers next season.

Isenbarger joined Frederick on this season’s AVCA Under Armour All-American list and helped Zionsville to a pair of sectional championships from 2015-2017 along with a regional championship and final four appearance in 2016.

“I fell in love with the campus and wanted to be a part of the outstanding volleyball program that’s been built there,” Isenbarger said. “Everyone I met was welcoming and WKU felt like a perfect fit for me. 

While at Zionsville, Isenbarger also accumulated over 1,000 kills and was named to the All-Hoosier Crossroads Conference Team. Additionally, the middle hitter earned First-Team All-State honors and AAU Academic All-American honors.

Isenbarger’s father, Phil, played basketball at Indiana University from 1978-1981 and was a part of Bobby Knight’s 1981 National Championship team. Isenbarger’s brother, Jack, played college basketball at Elon and now plays professionally for the London Lions.

“Katie is another kid that I think possesses tremendous athleticism; she owned Indiana’s best high jump mark last spring in track,” Hudson said. I think Katie is really going to blossom here in our system with continued maturity and strength. I have a feeling she’s going to prove to be one of the most underrated players in the entire 2017 class nationally.”

Matthews joins the Lady Toppers after attending Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Ind., where she earned four varsity letters.

While with Lawrence North, Matthews broke career school records for blocks and kills with 541 and 1,121, respectively, while also helping the school to its first sectional championship since 1979 and earning First-Team All-State honors during her final two seasons.

“I chose WKU because it felt like home to me and was the perfect place to continue my volleyball career,” Matthews said.

Over her last three seasons, Matthews was also named to the First-Team All-Conference squad and the All-Marion County team.

“Lauren is a kid that really blew up in the club season last year,” Hudson said. “She is an eye-popping athlete. She’s a little undersized as a middle hitter but more than makes up for that with her athleticism.”

The signing of Frederick will mean that the Lady Toppers will have four players that hail from Kentucky, as Mary Martin, Darby Music and Hallie Shelton all are from Lexington.

Isenbarger and Matthews will join current Lady Toppers Kayland Jackson (Indianapolis) and Taylor Bebout (Decatur) on the list of Indiana natives.

“In conclusion, I think this will prove to be one of the most highly thought of recruiting classes in the history of our program,” Hudson said. “These are some highly decorated players and phenomenal athletes and three high-level student-athletes as well.”

The Lady Toppers will close out the regular season on the road against North Texas on Thursday evening.

Reporter Clay Manlove can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ctmanlove58.