Lady Toppers to close out homestand

Clay Manlove

The Lady Topper volleyball team will close out a four-game homestand in Diddle Arena on Tuesday evening as it hosts a challenging non-conference opponent in Austin Peay.

WKU (18-2) broke the Conference USA record on Friday evening with its 30th consecutive win over conference opponents as the Lady Toppers defeated Southern Mississippi, extending their winning streak over conference foes at home to 48.

“It says a lot about our program – not just our team or our kids,” WKU head coach Travis Hudson said last Friday evening. “It says a lot about the program we’ve built, because that spans over a three-year period. To be ready to play every night against quality opponents is something we’re really, really proud of.”

Alyssa Cavanaugh blistered the Golden Eagles for 24 kills, just two shy of her career-high as the Lady Toppers hit at a combined .398 hitting percentage while holding Southern Miss to just a .194 clip.

“You just go into every game doing your best and putting your best foot forward, and that’s just a perk,” Cavanaugh said. “The winning streak is just a perk. It’s not something that we focus on, but it’s a great reward for our hard work.”

With the record night in the books, the Lady Toppers now shift their focus on stopping the high-flying Governors, who are 17-3 on the season after suffering their first loss in 11 matches on Saturday, a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Eastern Kentucky.

The production from the WKU offense and the Austin Peay defense should make for a marquee matchup in Diddle, as the Lady Toppers are hitting at a .339 percentage on the year while the Governors have held opponents to a combined .177 hitting clip on the season.

The Governors have proved their worth in late-match situations throughout the 2017 season, winning the third set 17-3 over opponents and posting a flawless 4-0 record in five-match sets.

Individually, senior middle blocker Ashley Slay powers Austin Peay on offense with 294 kills on the season while hitting at a .293 hitting clip. Redshirt junior outside hitter Christina White follows suit for the Governors, tallying 233 kills on the year.

Slay also leads all players for Austin Peay with 66 blocks on the defensive side while sophomore Ginny Gerig has 204 digs from her libero position to lead the Governors.

The Lady Toppers continue to do extensive damage on both sides of the ball, out-killing opponents 967-767 to go along with their .339 hitting percentage while holding opponents to a .182 hitting percentage and out-digging the opposition 851-681.

Cavanaugh continues to be the force of the offense with 289 kills on the season to complement a .393 hitting clip. Additionally, Rachel Anderson has held the WKU offense together with 239 kills on a .421 hitting percentage. Jessica Lucas has facilitated the Lady Toppers attack with 758 assists.

Defensively, Emma Kowalkowski leads WKU with 199 digs on the season while Sydney Engle has shown a balanced attack with 173 digs and 43 blocks to complement 140 kills on offense, good for third on the team. Anderson leads the Lady Toppers with 69 blocks.

Last week, Lucas earned her fifth-straight C-USA Setter of the Week award while Engle scooped up her third-straight C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honor. Lucas and Cavanaugh were both named candidates for the NCAA 2017 Senior CLASS Award.

On Monday, Cavanaugh was named the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week for the fifth time in her career. 

Following the match against the Governors, the Lady Toppers will be back on the road for a pair of conference matches against Alabama-Birmingham and Florida International on Friday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 15, respectively before returning home to host Texas-El Paso on Friday, Oct. 20, to kick off another four-match home slate.

Reporter Clay Manlove can be reached at (270) 274-9620 or at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ctmanlove58.