Lady Toppers charge past Marshall 3-1

Clay Manlove

Despite losing their first set in 30-straight sets, the Lady Toppers were able to regroup to take down Marshall 3-1 (25-17, 25-18, 22-25, 25-16) on Friday evening in front of a deafening crowd in Diddle Arena.

After being held to a .202 hitting percentage, well below their season average of .338, and committing 25 hitting errors. the Lady Toppers knew that they would have to rely on their defense to step up and get the win.

The Lady Toppers did just that, holding the Herd to a lowly .097 hitting clip and out-killing Marshall 51-35.

“Holding [Marshall] to an .097 percentage tonight was critical,” WKU head coach Travis Hudson said. “Twenty-five hitting errors is about a month’s worth for us; you’re not going to hit for percentage when you do that. We had a great crowd tonight that gave us some energy going into the fourth set.”

Taking their 20th-straight victory, including 35th-straight over conference opponents on Friday, Hudson still seeks a complete game on both sides of the net from his Lady Toppers.

“We strictly won this game through the way we defended tonight,” Hudson said. “I told our team that the way somebody is going to beat us is if we are in a slugging match with them. As long as we defend, I’m going to like our chances every night.”

The Lady Toppers jumped out to an 11-7 lead in the first set before the Herd clawed back to even the score at 11-11. After building its lead to 19-16, WKU finished the first set on a 6-1 run to take the set 25-17.

The second set looked much the same, the Lady Toppers deadlocked with Marshall 10-10 before WKU pulled away to win the set 25-18, featuring a pair of service aces by Sophia Cerino and Sydney Engle.

The Herd took the third set over WKU 25-22 despite a crowd-inspired comeback rally by the Lady Toppers. The set loss was the first for WKU since their 3-2 win over FAU on Sept. 22nd.

The Lady Toppers regrouped to take the fourth set in at a more comfortable 25-16 margin.

Rachel Anderson led the Lady Toppers with 17 kills while hitting at a .419 clip. Alyssa Cavanaugh followed up with 10 kills while hitting at just a .148 hitting percentage.

“I’d say that the crowd was definitely a big help for us,” Anderson said. “Feeding off of them after plays didn’t go our way or when plays did go our way, they were great tonight. It was the best turnout we’ve had.”

Jessica Lucas finished with a double-double, tallying 43 assists and 13 digs. Engle chipped in 16 digs while Anderson had four blocks.

WKU will be back at Diddle on Sunday to host UAB on Senior Day. The Lady Toppers will not be back on their home court until they play host to the Conference USA Tournament.

“It’s crazy that it’s already senior night,” Lucas said about playing her last regular season in Diddle on Sunday. “Obviously we get to come back and host the conference tournament, but it just won’t be the same.”