Lady Tops cinch regular season title on senior day

Senior middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp (13) spikes the ball against freshman middle blocker Gabriela Martin (2) during WKU’s match against Florida Atlantic on Sunday, Oct. 25. The Lady Toppers won In three sets. Tyger Williams/Special to the Herald

Matthew Stewart

It was an emotional Saturday in Diddle Arena last weekend as the senior trio of middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp and outside hitters Haley Bodway and Rachel Engle said goodbye to Hilltopper nation on senior day in the final home game of their careers.

The trio ended with a 52-3 record in Diddle after a win over the University of Texas, El Paso.

The volleyball team, ranked 24th nationally, defeated UTEP in sweeping fashion to claim its fifth consecutive win and finish the regular season with a 28-3 record — good for the regular season title.

“How could you not say winners? That’s all they have known since they have been here,” Head Coach Travis Hudson said in describing the three seniors. “They played four years of volleyball and lost three times in this building. They are great kids. I’m really, really proud of them.”

Langenkamp and Bodway both are part of the 1,000-kill club throughout their careers.

Hudson and the Lady Toppers took home the Conference USA Regular Season Championship for the second consecutive year in just as many seasons in the league.

Last year the team shared the title with the University of Texas at San Antonio, but this year it claimed sole ownership of the crown with the win over UTEP.

“My mom and dad taught me to share when I growing up, but this is the one thing I don’t like to share … championships,” Hudson said. “I think I value regular season championships as much as anything because I know how hard they are to achieve.”

Hudson said the conclusion this year couldn’t have been much better.

“To come out and do it in convincing fashion on senior day is a pretty good script for these kids,” Hudson said.

The win was the team’s fifth consecutive sweep since Rice broke its 17-game winning streak in Houston on October 31.

Against UTEP, WKU came out with solid hitting from Langenkamp and sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh.

Langenkamp threw down a match-high 13 kills with a .571 hitting clip in her final match in Diddle. Cavanaugh had a staggering .750 hitting percentage with 12 kills.

“Winning at a high level is something we have been able to do since I have been a freshman here, so I would say winning conference would be a big thing for me,” Langenkamp said.

Sophomore setter Jessica Lucas finished with a match-high 33 assists and nine digs. Freshman middle hitter Rachel Anderson recorded eight kills, and Bodway added five.

“It is nice going through all these years to step up into a leadership role. I didn’t see 1,000 kills after going through all the injuries I have had to go through, but it is an honor to be in that club,” said Bodway.

WKU has cinched the top overall seed for the 2015 C-USA Tournament in San Antonio.

The Lady Toppers’ first round opponent will be the Thundering Herd of Marshall, whom WKU has beaten twice already this season. The contest against Marshall is set to begin Friday at 5 p.m.