Lady Toppers on the road again at Northern Illinois

WKU senior Noelle Langenkamp (13) spikes the ball between a pair of Missouri State blockers during the Lady Toppers’ 2-3 loss on Friday at Diddle Arena. Nick Wagner/HERALD

Matthew Stewart

The WKU Volleyball team is back in action against Northern Iowa this Friday with another road swing.

WKU (9-2) has played just four of its 11 games in Diddle Arena.

With a fourth invitational tournament on the horizon for the Lady Toppers, WKU comes in off three consecutive sweeps. Seven of nine wins came in sweeping fashion.

“It makes life a little better when you have to travel, and you can get out of the gym in a three-game sweep and get home at a good time and prepare for the weekend,” said Assistant Coach Craig Bere. “Playing eight games in 12 days is tough, so those three set wins are pretty sweet.”

Most recently the Lady Toppers clashed with Belmont in Nashville and won in three.

WKU came out swinging early against Belmont with six of the eight aces of the night coming in the first set. Sophomore Jessica Lucas and junior Kaelin Grimes each recorded a pair.

“That was huge to start the match that way,” Bere said. “It allows us to create gaps in the score.”

The Lady Tops continued with an up-tempo offense that pressured Belmont in the second set of the match.

“Our attackers are doing a really good job taking care of the ball,” Bere said. “When they get an opportunity to put the ball away, they are doing that.”

The third set was a more evenly fought contest.

With the set tied at 24, Belmont had an error on a serve, and freshman Taylor Dellinger came away with a kill to help seal the sweep.

Dellinger totaled 10 kills and a .450 hitting percentage that night, both career highs. 

Sophomore Jessica Lucas had her fifth double double of the year and ended up with 35 assists and 13 digs.

“Jessica has a lot on her plate, but she is doing a great job — certainly doing her part statistically and stepping up vocally as a leader,” said Bere. 

Coming in to the 2015 Huskie Invitational hosted by Northern Illinois in DeKalb, the Lady Toppers will play three contests. 

Northern Iowa (4-5), Alabama (4-6) and Northern Illinois (4-5) all pose threats to the Lady Toppers. 

First up is SEC opponent Alabama on Friday at 11 a.m.  

“You’re talking about an SEC school — I think they were picked preseason No. 2 in their conference. Now, they haven’t played up to that yet, but it’s there,” Bere said. “They have had some injuries and some personnel shakeups, and it looks like on paper that they are healthy coming in to the weekend, and they have some high-level athletes.”

Second up for the Lady Toppers is Northern Iowa, whose identity and culture was noted by the Lady Topper coaching staff.

“Northern Iowa has been a real tough, physical and dominant team with a real blue-collar background and a winning culture,” Bere said.

The Lady Toppers will end their Illinois road swing against host Northern Illinois.

“Northern Illinois is doing really well; they are blocking extremely well,” Bere said. “Our offense is going to have to really be clicking and be really efficient.”