Weekend matches take Lady Toppers to Texas

Senior outside hitter Sydney Engle (16) goes up for a hit in WKU’s match against University of Alabama-Birmingham on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 at Diddle Arena. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Matthew Stewart

The Lady Topper volleyball team (20-2) is headed to the lone star state this weekend for a pair of Conference USA matchups.

During the road swing, Head Coach Travis Hudson and company will be taking on the University of Texas El Paso (4-16) and the University of Texas San Antonio (14-4).

The matchups this weekend will be the first time this season the Lady Tops have taken on either of the teams from Texas. Last season WKU managed to win three total games against these conference foes.

First up for the Lady Tops is a crucial game against UTEP on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Miners are currently third in the C-USA standings and are looking to move up the rankings as WKU sits atop of the rankings still undefeated.

UTEP is led offensively by freshman outside hitter Macey Austin. Austin has 175 kills on the season averaging 2.57 kills per set. Senior setter Lindsey Larson is also an important piece to the offense as she has dished out 369 assists on the season.

On the defensive side for the Miners they are led by senior defensive specialist Sarah Villa with 392 digs, good for a 5.23 dig per set average.

The Lady Tops will then travel to El Paso, Texas, to take on the Road Runners on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

UTSA, one of the top tier volleyball squads in the conference, is led on the offensive side of the ball by senior outside hitter Dajana Boskovic with 305 kills on the year (4.62 kills per set). Its setter, senior Jessica Waldrip, has 638 assists on the season good for 9.67 assists per set.

Defensively, the runners have put up solid numbers as well. Sophomore defensive specialist Shelby Williams has 194 digs to her name this season. Senior middle hitter Tessa Dahnert has 58 total blocks this season.

The Lady Tops continue to be led on offense by two All-Americans in junior outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh and junior setter Jessica Lucas.

Cavanaugh has thrown down 350 kills on the year which amounts to 4.38 kills per set. Lucas has 842 assists this season which equates to a staggering 11.53 assists per set.

Defensively, senior defensive specialist Georgia O’Connell leads the way in digs with 312 digs or 3.9 per set. Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Amara Listenbee leads WKU in blocks with 76 on the year.

In last year’s campaign the Lady Tops took down UTSA twice, winning both matches 3-1. WKU swept UTEP 3-0 in both meetings last season.

This weekend marks the first leg of the Lady Tops’ road trip as they will travel next to Marshall University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham before returning to Diddle Arena on Friday, Nov. 4, when they will host the Rice University Owls.

“Getting through the mid-season lull if you will and picking our energy back up,” Hudson said in a WKU press release. “We are moving toward tournament time and we only have seven games left. We are starting to get a lot of positive momentum with everybody being really confident and being ready once we move towards tournament time.”

Reporter Matthew Stewart can be reached at 270-745-6281 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @MES_WKU22.