Lady Tops head to Buckeye Invitational

WKU senior Alyssa Cavanaugh (7) spikes the ball during their game vs. Pittsburgh on Friday, September 8, 2017 in Diddle Arena. This weekend WKU competed a tournament and Cavanaugh was named the tournament MVP.

Clay Manlove

The Lady Topper volleyball team continues its six-game road streak with a trip to Columbus, Ohio, for a three-match slate in the Buckeye Invitational Friday and Saturday at Ohio State University.

The challenging Friday slate includes matches against Ohio State at 11 a.m. and Dayton at 4:30 p.m. WKU will close out the weekend with a match against Northern Illinois at noon on Saturday.

The Lady Toppers picked up their sixth straight win Tuesday evening, a 3-0 sweep over Lipscomb in Nashville. This win came after WKU swept the Holiday Inn University Plaza Invitational last weekend 3-0.

Following the Holiday Inn Invitational, three Lady Toppers earned a trio of Conference USA weekly awards for their performances.

Senior Alyssa Cavanaugh, who picked up tournament MVP honors, was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in her WKU career after racking up 59 kills on a .414 hitting clip.

Senior Jessica Lucas was named C-USA Setter of the Week for the second consecutive week – the 14th of her career – after tallying 126 assists in the tournament. Junior Rachel Anderson picked up C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors after posting 21 blocks in the tournament.

The Lady Topper offense continues to put up winning numbers as the season rolls on, but WKU’s defense has been a brick wall to opposing offenses over the past week.

In the win over Pittsburgh at the Holiday Inn Invitational, the Lady Toppers picked up 23 total blocks as a team, nine shy of the school record of 32. Ten of those blocks came from redshirt junior Amara Listenbee, also just four shy of a new school record.

In Tuesday night’s win over Lipscomb, WKU totaled 14 blocks as a team including eight apiece from Listenbee and senior Sydney Engle.

The Lady Toppers will begin Buckeye Invitational play with a Friday morning match against host Ohio State (5-3), who has a 3-1 record on its home court this season.

The Buckeyes are paced by junior outside hitter Audra Appold, who leads the team with 76 kills on a .258 hitting percentage while senior outside hitter Ashley Wenz follows suit with 73 kills on a .271 clip. Junior setter Taylor Hughes has 303 assists to lead the Buckeyes.

Defensively, freshman defensive specialist Hannah Gruensfelder leads Ohio State with 146 digs (5.03 digs/set). Senior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer follows suit with 90 digs for the Buckeyes while freshman middle blocker Lauren Witte leads the team with 38 blocks.

Dayton, who the Lady Toppers will face for the night cap Friday afternoon, improved to 7-4 with a 3-0 win over IUPUI Tuesday evening.

The duo of junior outside hitter Lauren Bruns and senior middle blocker Amber Erhahon lead the Flyers as Bruns has tallied 129 kills on the season while Erhahon follows with 123 kills of her own. Senior setter Jane Emmenecker paces Dayton with 386 assists.

The Flyers are led on defense by junior libero Margo Wolf, who leads the team with 183 digs. Erhahon leads Dayton with 49 blocks.

The Lady Toppers will wrap up the Buckeye Invitational with a noon match against Northern Illinois (1-11) Saturday. The Huskies are coming off of their first win of the season, a 3-1 victory over Illinois State Tuesday evening.

Leading the Huskies is freshman outside hitter Kaylee Martin, who has a team-leading 120 kills on the season after picking up 25 in Tuesday evening’s victory over Illinois State.

Senior setter Chandler Kinley leads NIU with 215 assists on the season while junior middle blocker Meg Wolowicz paces the Huskies’ defense with 37 blocks.

After the Buckeye Invitational, the Lady Toppers will get a six-day break before beginning Conference USA play on the road at Florida Atlantic Sept. 22.

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