Lady Toppers Make History, Sweep Buckeye Invitational

By Clay Manlove

The Lady Topper volleyball team picked up three crucial wins and made a little history while doing so this weekend as they swept a three-match slate in the Buckeye Invitational at Ohio State University.

The opening day of the tournament was highlighted by WKU’s 3-0 win over the host No. 25 Ohio State, which marked the first sweep of a Top 25 opponent in program history.

In the first match, the Lady Toppers (13-2) blistered the Buckeyes with 45 kills on a .506 hitting clip as a team. Rachel Anderson had 12 of those kills while Alyssa Cavanaugh added 11, both hitting at a .429 clip.

The Lady Topper defense held Ohio State to a .297 hitting percentage as Jessica Lucas tallied seven digs to complement her 34 assists on offense. Emma Kowalkowski racked up five service aces from her libero position. 

The WKU defense shined in the afternoon match against Dayton, where the Lady Toppers picked up a 3-1 win.

Kowalkowski led the team with 13 digs while Lucas, Hallie Shelton and Darby Music all tallied 10 a piece while helping hold the Flyers to just a .094 hitting percentage.

Anderson and Cavanaugh dominated the Dayton defense with 18 kills apiece. Lucas recorded 48 assists.

“I’m really proud of our effort today,” WKU head coach Travis Hudson said on Friday evening. “We played two high-quality teams that we have a lot of respect for in Ohio State and Dayton.”

WKU finished off the weekend with a 3-0 sweep of Northern Illinois on Saturday afternoon.

Anderson and Cavanaugh again carried the Lady Topper offense, Anderson posting 13 kills and Cavanaugh tallying 12. Lucas added 13 assists.

Kowalkowski and Sydney Engle both tallied 10 digs while Anderson served up two service aces.

“This was a great way to finish off the weekend,” Hudson said on Saturday. “Northern Illinois plays the game very hard and we had to match that effort level to be successful today. I’m very proud of the way our kids competed this weekend.”

The Lady Toppers hit .384 as a team in the tournament while holding opponents to a .178 hitting percentage.

Anderson earned Buckeye Invitational MVP after leading the team with 43 kills and nine blocks for the tournament. Lucas and Cavanaugh both picked up All-Tournament honors.

The Lady Toppers will get a six-day break before beginning Conference USA play at Florida Atlantic on Friday evening.