Lady Tops enter C-USA play with eyes on championships

WKU junior Georgia O’Connell (12) and Sydney Engle (16) collide while receiving a serve during a match against Missouri State Friday, Sept. 11, at Diddle Arena.

Matthew Stewart

The WKU volleyball team extended its winning streak to six games when Head Coach Travis Hudson’s squad captured the 2015 Huskie Invitational, moving the program to 12-2 in 2015. 

WKU found success across its nonconference slate, starting with a win against preseason fifth-ranked Wisconsin and ending with seven wins in eight games over  12 days.

Despite the success, Hudson  still wants more out of his squad. 

“We are still very much a work in progress, I feel like we have a lot of room for growth,” Hudson said.  

The nonconference schedule was designed to test the team against top-tier competition in preparation for 2015 Conference USA play. 

Coming out of that challenging non-conference slate, WKU is 3-0 against Power Five conference teams in Wisconsin, Northwestern and Alabama. 

“I think the fans like to see that,” Hudson said of the challenges league play presents. “Honestly we have played several opponents that were every bit of the quality of (those Power Five Conference) teams,” Hudson said.

This past weekend, the Lady Toppers took to the net against some large, physical teams with success. 

The Lady Tops first played against SEC foe Alabama. Senior Noelle Langenkamp and sophomore Alyssa Cavanaugh led the way to capture the third win against a Power Five conference team in sweeping fashion (25-21, 25-22, 25-22).

“Noelle Langenkamp has been the rock of this team by far; she has gone out there and done it,” said Hudson.

Cavanaugh finished with a game-high 15 kills, and Langenkamp chipped in 11 of her own off of a season-high .579 hitting percentage. 

Sophomore Sydney Engle also threw down five kills on Friday morning while junior Georgia O’Connell grounded the defense with 11 digs.  

“That consistency that we are looking for — those are the kids that have been doing that for us,” Hudson said of his standout performers. 

Cavanaugh led the Lady Tops with a big-hitting night to take down Northern Iowa, matching a season-high 17 kills.  

Sydney Engle also showcased her talent, tying a career-best 11 kills on a season-high .524 hitting clip. 

The last contest of the weekend went into five sets against hosts Northern Illinois.  WKU took control early and won the first set but found itself in a corner when it lost the next two. 

WKU recovered though, and  turned on their game out of the break. WKU moved on to claim the match (25-23, 12-25, 17-25, 25-17, 15-7).

“Consistency: That’s the thing that we haven’t hit our stride with yet. We have got to get better play from Sydney and Haley Bodway,” said Hudson. “If we can get consistent play from those two, we will be a really tough team to beat day-in and day-out.”