High-flying Lady Toppers return to Diddle

WKU Volleyball team plays Pitt on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 and won 3-2

Clay Manlove


After 20 long days, the Lady Topper volleyball team will finally return to its home court this weekend to play a pair of Conference USA matches against Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee State.

The six-game road stretch for WKU included wins over No. 25 Ohio State and two conference wins over Florida Atlantic and Charlotte.

The Lady Toppers (15-2) have won 11 straight matches since back-to-back losses to Louisville and Illinois in the Cardinal Classic on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, respectively. In addition, WKU has also won 27 straight conference matches since a loss to Rice on Oct. 31, 2015.

WKU will open the weekend slate with a match against LA Tech (5-10) at 6 p.m. on Friday evening in Diddle Arena.

The Lady Techsters are struggling through a rough patch, having lost five of their last seven matches, including their C-USA opener against Rice, 3-1.

LA Tech is led offensively by the duo of freshman outside hitter Gina Cortesi and redshirt senior outside hitter Marta Monne, who both have accumulated 148 total kills on the season. Senior setter Brooke Short paces the Lady Techsters with 466 assists on the season.

Senior libero Jacie McClure leads LA Tech on defense with 227 digs while sophomore middle blocker Madeline Davis has 58 blocks to lead the Lady Techsters.

As a team, LA Tech has managed only a .167 hitting percentage on the season while being out-killed by opponents 767-671.

The Lady Toppers will get a one-day break before facing Middle Tennessee State (4-12) on their home floor on Sunday at noon.

Since picking up a pair of wins against Morehead State on Sept. 9 and Robert Morris on Sept. 15, the Blue Raiders have dropped four straight matches, including conference matches to Alabama-Birmingham and Marshall.

MTSU is led on offense by junior outside hitter Regan Coughlin, who has amassed 152 kills on the season while junior right-side hitter Makila York has added 135 kills on the year. Sophomore setter Taylor Hammill has 492 assists on the season to pace the Blue Raiders.

Sophomore libero Brienna Tankesley leads MTSU on defense with 189 digs on the season while freshman middle blocker Josie Maxim has 45 blocks for the Blue Raiders.

MTSU has mustered a .172 hitting clip on the season while allowing opponents to a .265 hitting percentage. Additionally, no player on the Blue Raiders’ roster has hit above a .301 clip in 2017.

For their performances in last weekend’s conference-opening matches, WKU’s Jessica Lucas and Sydney Engle again scooped up C-USA weekly awards on Monday afternoon.

Lucas grabbed C-USA Setter of the Week honors for the fourth consecutive week while powering the Lady Toppers to a .414 hitting percentage, notching 104 total assists on the weekend. With her 16th career C-USA Setter of the Week nod, Lucas is now second all-time in conference standings for weekly awards in volleyball.

Engle earned C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second week in a row after tallying 25 digs and five blocks on the weekend while also notching 12 kills on a career-high .722 hitting clip against Charlotte on Sunday afternoon.

Four Lady Topper have now combined for eight C-USA weekly awards in five weeks of volleyball, Lucas with four, Engle with two and Rachel Anderson and Alyssa Cavanaugh with one apiece.

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