Lady Toppers edge UTSA for 50th-straight home conference win

Clay Manlove

Overcoming another slow start in Diddle Arena, the Lady Toppers used a late defensive effort to squeak past Texas-San Antonio 3-0 to win their 19th-straight match and their 50th-straight conference win at home.

Trailing the Roadrunners 24-21 in the third set, the Lady Toppers took a timeout with their 27-set win streak hanging in the balance. Afterwards, WKU fired off five straight points to seal the sweep with a 26-24 win in the third set.

“I told them [at the timeout] that we couldn’t win by trading points,” WKU head coach Travis Hudson said. “Our offense was fine; we just weren’t getting stops. Defense is going to make or break this team every single match, and we weren’t great defensively today but made some plays toward the end to be able to pull it out.”

Rachel Anderson had two kills in the Lady Toppers’ 5-0 match-winning run along with two attack errors by UTSA (7-13 overall, 5-3 C-USA) to give WKU a 25-24 lead.

“None of us were uptight; we were out here playing and we’ve done this for a while,” Anderson said. “We were confident in what we do and what we know, and I think that played a big role late in the match.”

The Lady Toppers sealed the match with a solo block by Taylor Dellinger to finish off the Roadrunners.

“Taylor is always our unsung hero in this bunch,” Hudson said. “With a team full of all-Americans and all-Conference players, she has to do a lot of the grunt work. She’s been up and down throughout the year, but she stepped up and made some big plays including that one at the end.”

UTSA did not make it easy for the Lady Toppers (23-2 overall, 9-0 C-USA) early in the match, hanging around before WKU was able to come away with a 25-22 win in the first set.

In the first set, the Roadrunners hit at a blazing .625 hitting clip while the Lady Toppers managed a .312 hitting percentage.

“We just couldn’t get [UTSA] stopped, and they played flawless,” Hudson said. “That team had 45 hitting errors on Friday night [against Rice] and they had zero in set one against us. I’m still unclear how we won that first set; we just hung around and when we can find a way to win against a performance like that, I think it says a lot about our kids.”

The Lady Toppers cruised through the second set, overcoming a 3-1 deficit with an 8-0 run on the way to a 25-15 victory.

Alyssa Cavanaugh had another spectacular performance for the Lady Toppers, recording 20 kills while hitting at a .459 clip. Anderson and Dellinger added seven and six kills, respectively.

“Alyssa and Taylor did great the whole weekend,” Anderson said. “We all knew that they were the matchup advantage going into this weekend, so everyone’s goal was to get that one block and to get them open to where they could make a play.”

Anderson added seven blocks as the Lady Toppers recorded 10 as a team.

“We just got more competitive and more aggressive later in the match,” Anderson said. “Blocking is a thing that I personally struggle with, so it was great to be able to step up as a team and get seven blocks today.”

The Lady Toppers will be back at home next weekend for a pair of conference matches between Marshall and Alabama-Birmingham on Friday and Sunday, respectively. WKU will not be home again after that until playing host to the Conference USA tournament from Friday, Nov 17 to Sunday, Nov 19.

Reporter Clay Manlove can be reached at (270) 724-9620 or at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ctmanlove58.