Lady Tops claim share of regular-season title with weekend sweeps

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

WKU volleyball closed out its regular-season schedule this weekend in Diddle Arena with sweeps of UTEP and Middle Tennessee before claiming a regular-season Conference USA co-championship.

The Lady Toppers (27-5, 15-1) enter their first-ever Conference USA Tournament as the No. 2 seed after claiming a share of the regular-season title with UTSA (19-8, 15-1).

Freshmen outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh and setter Jessica Lucas both came up big for the Lady Toppers in their last weekend of regular-season play. Cavanaugh totaled 20 kills and a .500 hitting percentage against MTSU alone, while Lucas dished out 41 assists and nine digs.

Cavanaugh totaled 361 kills on the season and a .267 hitting percentage while Lucas dished out 1,186 of WKU’s 1,428 assists.

Senior middle hitter Heather Boyan was a rock both offensively and defensively all season. Boyan notched 285 kills in her senior campaign for a .338 hitting percentage. Defensively, she leads the team with 124 blocks.

“Now we are in a position where we win or go home,” Boyan said. “It is the last time I will ever play, so personally, for me, I’m going to leave everything out there. I just want the freshmen to do the same thing — I need to tell them this may be the last time we play together as a team.”

The Lady Toppers have not lost a game since Oct. 17 against UTSA, and since have dropped only three of the 27 sets they have competed in.  

The Lady Toppers will face No. 7 Florida Atlantic on Friday at 5 p.m. in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in the first round of the conference tournament.

“That’s a really tough matchup for us,” Head Coach Travis Hudson said. “They are the best defensive team in the league, so it is going to be a grind. But we have been in a lot of those. We persevered twice against them, but both times it was really tough.”

The tournament runs from Friday to Sunday, with the top eight teams securing spots.

Though the Lady Toppers sport a better regular-season record with 27 wins to UTSA’s 19, both teams sport a 15-1 record in league play, and UTSA nabbed the No. 1 seed due to its win over WKU in conference play. UTSA’s only loss came from No. 3 North Texas.

“I am probably as settled as a coach as I have been all season,” Hudson said. “I just know these kids are going to go out and play till it is over and usually we find a way.”

If WKU advances Friday against Florida Atlantic, the Lady Toppers will face the winner of No. 3 North Texas and No. 6 Southern Miss on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. WKU beat FAU twice in the regular season, dishing out a sweep away from home, and beating them 3-1 in Diddle arena.   

The C-USA championship match takes place on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcasted nationally by FOX Sports Network.