Lady Tops nearing end of regular season

WKU’s defense specialist Georgia O’Connell (12) reacts to WKU scoring a point during the Lady Toppers’ 3-1 win over UTSA on Friday at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Matthew Stewart

The No. 24 WKU volleyball team (26-3) took trip to Florida this weekend to take on Florida International and Florida Atlantic respectively. Coming off a loss the weekend before against Rice that ended the Toppers’ historic 17 game win streak, the team got back to winning ways. 

Holding on to the top spot in the conference, Head Coach Travis Hudson and his squad punched a ticket to the Conference USA tournament as one of the eight teams from the 13-team conference that qualify.  

“I was very pleased with how we competed in that loss (to Rice), as I have been all year long. We have gotten right back to work and continued to compete,” Hudson said. “This is a really special group of kids, they compete every night when the lights come on.”

They were able to come out of this weekend in Florida as winners, winning both contests in sweeping fashion.  

“We went as far away in Florida as you can go this past weekend, that was a long trip,” Hudson said. “To put those behind us is something we are excited about.”

In the first matchup in the Sunshine State, senior outside hitter Haley Bodway led the offensive attack with a match-high 14 kills with a .545 hitting clip.

Sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh was impressive in her own right with eight kills on .300 hitting. Senior middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp and Freshman middle hitter Rachel Anderson notched six kills each.  

“Haley is coming on strong. Everybody is starting to see why I stuck with Haley after she was struggling early in the season,” Hudson said. “That is a really talented kid.”

Junior defensive specialist Kaelin Grimes held down the defensive front for the Lady Toppers and came away with a match high 10 digs and chipped in two service aces. 

Against FAU, Cavanaugh and Langenkamp led the charge for the Tops. Langenkamp walked away with 13 kills and Cavanaugh with 11. The team as a whole hit .320 with 49 kills.

“Alyssa and I sat down and talked last week and talked about some of the things she needed to do and she certainly went out and had a great weekend,” said Hudson.

Sophomore outside and right side hitter Sydney Engle was able to put the game away with a clutch kill and service ace in the third set to come away with another sweep on the season. Engle finished with 9 kills and 9 digs.

Bodway continued her strong play with eight kills.

 “I think Haley was ‘player of the week’ good this weekend in the two matches that we had,” Hudson said. 

Sophomore setter Jessica Lucas almost grabbed a double-double, with a match high 38 assists on top of eight digs and five kills.

The Lady Tops were able to hold the Owls to a .143 hitting percentage thanks in part to junior defensive specialist Georgia O’Connell. O’Connell tallied a match-high 19 digs. Senior outside hitter Rachel Engle finished with 11 digs of her own.

WKU is set to wrap up regular season play at home in Diddle this weekend. The Lady Toppers will take on Marshall on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and then the Miners of UTEP on Saturday at noon.