Lady Tops receive honors; will open C-USA Tournament play on Friday

WKU senior middle hitter Heather Boyan (3) spikes the ball as two Charlotte players block on Oct. 7. Harrison Hill/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

WKU volleyball enters its first-ever Conference USA Tournament on Friday as the No. 2 seed pitted against No. 7 seed Florida Atlantic following the Lady Toppers’ two weekend sweeps to end the regular season.

The Lady Toppers (27-5, 15-1) earned a share of the regular-season title with UTSA (19-8, 15-1 C-USA), and four members of the team received C-USA honors.

On Tuesday, the league named senior middle hitter Heather Boyan, freshman outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh and freshman setter Jessica Lucas to the First-Team All-Conference list while junior middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp was named to the Second-Team All-Conference.

Cavanaugh and Lucas were also named to the All-Freshman Team.

No. 1 seed UTSA leads the conference with five selections, while No. 4 Rice is tied with the Lady Toppers with four. Cavanaugh and Lucas were the only two freshmen in the league to be named to the All-Conference Team.

Boyan doubled up her conference honors this week, as she was also named to the C-USA All-Academic team along with junior outside hitter Rachel Engle.

“It has been an emotional week, and it is definitely going to just get more emotional,” Boyan said, after finishing regular-season play. “I’m just trying to enjoy every last moment of it.”

Boyan leads the league with 1.14 blocks per set, while she ranks fifth in hitting percentage with a .338 clip. In conference play, Boyan performed even better, hitting .397 with 1.27 blocks per set.

Cavanaugh proved to be one of the Lady Toppers’ top offensive threats on a consistent basis, averaging 3.34 kills per set. The freshman helped WKU rank 21st in the nation with 14.06 kills per set.

Much like Boyan, Cavanaugh’s game saw improvement once conference play started. Her kills per set moved to 3.84, and she posted double-digit kills in 13 of 16 matches, including 20 against Middle Tennessee and a season-best 21 against North Texas. Defensively, Cavanaugh notched 60 digs and 54 total blocks, including 24 block solos.

“It definitely feels natural, I never have second guessed it or felt too pressured,” Cavanaugh said of her offensive role on the team. “Having the teammates that I have has helped me tremendously – without our defense and without (Lucas), I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do.”

WKU finds itself ranked 11th in the nation in hitting with a .278 hitting percentage, thanks in part to Lucas and her 1,186 assists. She averages the second-most assists per set in the league at 10.88 and was named C-USA Setter of the Week twice in her freshman campaign.

Lucas followed the trend of her teammates this season and upped her assists per game in conference play to 11.62. Defensively, Lucas was of equal importance, tallying 267 digs and 73 blocks.

Langenkamp nabbed her third All-Conference honors of her career, coming out to one in every season she’s been in a Lady Topper uniform. Langenkamp ranks ninth in the league with a .316 hitting clip, as she earned C-USA Offensive Player of the Week once along with Holiday Inn University Plaza Invitational MVP.

The Lady Toppers begin postseason action on Friday against No. 7 FAU, a team that Head Coach Travis Hudson describes as “the best defensive team in the conference.”

“It’s not necessarily the matchup you want, if you’re a young team, because, sometimes, when a team can defend, it frustrates you,” Hudson said. “We are just going to keep doing what we have been doing. I am probably as settled as a coach as I’ve been all season. I just know these kids are going to go out and play until it’s over, and usually we find a way.”