Lady Tops to play Iowa State in Ames Regional

Freshman middle hitter Sydney Engle, left, and junior middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp block an attempted kill by Marshall outside hitter Cassie Weaver. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

The No. 24-ranked WKU volleyball team received its eighth invitation to the NCAA tournament in program history on Sunday night.

The Lady Toppers (30-5) are set to travel to Illinois to take on Big 12 foe Iowa State (18-9) in their first tournament matchup. If WKU advances past its opening match, the team will face off against the winner of Ames Regional host school Illinois and Murray State.

“Iowa State, honestly, was not a team on our radar as somebody we would play, so I honestly don’t know very much about them, but that will change pretty quickly,” Head Coach Travis Hudson said after learning his team’s fate.

No matter the opponent, Hudson is set on taking this tournament one game at a time.

“We have to get through Iowa State first,” Hudson said when asked about the other teams in their bracket. “The Big 12 is one of the premier conferences in the country, and Iowa State has had a lot of success over the last decade in the sport of women’s volleyball — it is going to be a tough matchup.”

WKU punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 23 after winning the Conference USA Tournament with a 3-2 victory over Rice in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The Lady Toppers will enter the tournament riding an 11-game winning streak, led by C-USA tournament MVP Heather Boyan.

“We were expecting to go to either Illinois or UK, so there is not really much of a surprise there, but I don’t think any of us were expecting Iowa State,” Boyan said.

The middle hitter has had a dominant senior season, earning two defensive player of the week honors over the course of her senior season, while also posting the Lady Toppers’ best hitting percentage on the season at .336.

“It is a great feeling,” Boyan said of finding out the team’s fate in the tournament. “I was really nervous the week leading up and I was really nervous right before we found out. It is great to finally have someone to prepare for.”