Louisville hands WKU first loss, Lady Toppers go 1-2 in Cardinal Classic

Junior Taylor Dellinger (21) goes up to block Tennessee State Rachel Henderson (5), during WKU’s game on Tuesday night in Diddle Arena. WKU womens volleyball won their first home game against Tennessee State on Tuesday in Diddle Arena.

Clay Manlove

The WKU volleyball team suffered a pair of losses but earned a closing win in this weekend’s Cardinal Classic Tournament at the University of Louisville. 

The Lady Toppers (5-2) dropped their first two matches of the game, falling to Louisville 1-3 and Illinois 0-3, while beating Kent State to close out the tournament with a 3-0 win. 

Against Louisville (1-2), the Lady Toppers won the first set 25-18 but dropped the next three, with a final match score of 25-18, 19-25, 15-25, 16-25. 

“It was a disappointing night for sure,” WKU head coach Travis Hudson said after the loss. “Louisville continued to get better and better as the night went along and we did not. In big matches you need your veterans to step up and make plays and we struggled with that tonight.” 

Jessica Lucas finished with her second double-double outing of the season against the Lady Cards, posting 35 assists along with 10 digs and eight kills. Sydney Engle led the team with 10 digs and three blocks. 

The Lady Toppers came back on Saturday only to suffer another loss, a three-set sweep at the hands of 5-0 Illinois (16-25, 17-25, 13-25). 

“It was a frustrating morning for our team,” Hudson said of the day’s opening match. “We did some really good things offensively. When you’re able to hit over .300 as a team you expect to be in the match. We obviously never gave ourselves a chance with the way we defended.” 

Alyssa Cavanaugh lead the Lady Toppers with 11 kills on a .300 hitting percentage against the Illini. Rachel Anderson tallied nine kills and Taylor Dellinger contributed seven kills. 

Despite the pair of losses, WKU rebounded to take down 1-5 Kent State (25-19, 25-15, 25-15) in the nightcap to close out the tournament. 

“It was great to end the weekend on a positive note,” head coach Travis Hudson said of the win. “I am very proud of the way that our kids bounced back.” 

The Lady Toppers hit a collective .440 in the match while Cavanaugh and Anderson led the team with 11 kills apiece. Lucas topped WKU with 36 assists while Emma Kowalkowski paced the Lady Topper defense with 11 digs. 

WKU travels to Nashville on Tuesday, Sept. 5 to face Belmont. Upon arriving home, the Lady Toppers will host the University Plaza Invitational on Friday and Saturday at Diddle Arena. 

“We were exposed a bit this weekend,” Hudson said. “We have a lot of work to do with a tough road ahead of us.” 

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