One tournament down, one to go | Lady Tops claim C-USA tournament crown

Jessica Lucas (1) and her teammates celebrate after they score a point during WKU’s 3-0 win over Belmont Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. 

Matthew Stewart

The WKU volleyball team claimed its second consecutive Conference USA tournament championship in as many years in the league on Sunday.

In a season that saw the Lady Tops grab sole possession of the regular season title, WKU amassed a 17-game win streak on their way to posting a 31-3 overall record.  

Head Coach Travis Hudson and company headed down to San Antonio, Texas for the three-day tournament that included the top eight teams in the conference.

Their first match of the tournament was against a Marshall team that the Toppers dropped just one set to in two regular season contests. 

Sophomore outside hitter Sydney Engle set the pace for WKU, producing a career-high 16 kills on a .519 hitting clip to go along with eight digs, three blocks and a serving ace.

Sophomore setter Jessica Lucas, reigning setter of the year in C-USA, recorded a match-high 44 assists and added to her stat line with nine kills, seven digs and seven blocks. Senior middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp came away with 10 kills and seven blocks.

WKU defeated the Thundering Herd of Marshall in four sets. The win propelled them to the second of three rounds in the tournament to take on the Mean Green of North Texas.

The defense for the Hilltoppers proved to be effective as North Texas outside hitter Carnae Dillard, the NCAA kills leader and C-USA player of the year, was held to 11 kills on .171 hitting. The Mean Green overall was held to just .105 hitting as a team.

Sophomore defensive specialist Sydney Engle and junior libero Georgia O’Connell each led the Lady Tops with nine digs and freshman middle hitter Rachel Anderson finished with a team-high four blocks.

The Lady Toppers swept North Texas in three sets, pitting WKU against host team University of Texas-San Antonio in the championship game.

UTSA shared a piece of the regular season championship with the Lady Toppers last year and finished second in the league this year.

Hudson had preached all season how talented UTSA was and how well they matchup with his team.

WKU found itself leading by to sets at the break, but UTSA came out firing and took the third set with a 25-20 victory. The Lady Tops sealed the championship in the following set by a score of 25-21. 

Lucas almost grabbed a triple-double with 54 assists, nine kills and eight digs.  She was awarded the tournament MVP award for her performance on the weekend, finishing with 138 assists, 22 kills and 21 digs to go along with 10 blocks and five service aces. Langenkamp and Sydney Engle were also honored as they were named to the all-tournament team.

With this Conference USA Tournament win, the 21st ranked Lady Toppers have officially punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. They will be hosting a selection show party on Sunday November 29that Overtime Sports Bar and Grill, which will begin at 7 P.M.