Lady Tops enter 2015 season with high expectations

Head Coach Travis Hudson gives the volleyball team a talk during the game against Tennessee Tech on Tuesday. Brandon Carter/HERALD


The Lady Topper volleyball team nearly cracked the top 25 in the Preseason Top 50.

WKU ranks 27th in the poll, and comes in on what PrepVolleyball calls “the upswing” with 2014 Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles in hand. The Lady Toppers were picked to repeat that feat in the 2015 C-USA preseason coaches poll.

After a 30-6 overall record and a 15-1 mark in C-USA in 2014, the Lady Toppers bid farewell to just two seniors (albeit large statistical and mental contributors) in middle hitter Heather Boyan and defensive specialist Mollie Pajakowski.

A total of 10 student-athletes return to the roster in 2015, including two AVCA All-Americans sophomore setter Jessica Lucas and fellow sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh.

The offense moved through Lucas last season.  As a freshman she tallied 1,338 of WKU’s 1,604 assists on the season.  The second most assists in 2014 came from defensive specialist Georgia O’Connell with 70.  With Lucas notching over 83 percent of the Lady Toppers’ assists last season with quadruple-digit figures, none of her teammates managed assists in the triple digits. 

Cavanaugh proved to be equally important to the Lady Topper attack in her freshman season, leading the team last season in kills with 411.  That tally is nearly 100 more than Heather Boyan’s second most of 329.

Head Coach Travis Hudson and his staff stayed busy in the offseason trying to find replacements in a squad that lost more in leadership than they did in numbers at the conclusion of last season.

Hudson and the program’s response to the graduation of Boyan and Pajakowski was to bring in a trio of freshman recruits. Rachel Anderson, a 6-1 middle hitter from Sturgis, Michigan was added to the roster along with 6-0 outside hitter Taylor Dellinger of Clarkston, Michigan and 5-11 setter Mary Martin of Lexington, Kentucky.

After an impressive record in 2014, WKU will look to claim at least 25 wins in 2015 for the 14th straight season.

WKU’s 121 wins over the last four seasons are second most of any team in the NCAA behind Penn State—meaning the lady Toppers have performed with a higher level of win-loss success than traditional powerhouse teams such as Stanford, Florida, Florida State, Hawaii, Texas, North Carolina, and Washington.

The Lady Toppers kick off their season on the road on August 28 against 2013 National Runner-Up Wisconsin.