Lady Tops gearing up for final road swing of the season

WKU volleyball vs Rice on Sept 28 at Diddle Arena. WKU won in five sets. Brandon Carter/Herald

Jonah Phillips

WKU volleyball is set to take its .821 winning percentage, which is good for No. 22 in the country, into its final two conference road games of the season this weekend against Southern Miss on Friday at 7 p.m. and Marshall on Sunday at noon.

The Lady Toppers (23-5, 11-1 Conference USA) will look to keep their momentum going as their inaugural season in the C-USA comes to a close. WKU won 12 of their last 13 games and dropped just six of the last 45 sets.

WKU first travels to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to take on Southern Miss (19-10, 8-4 C-USA). The Golden Eagles have lost just one game at home all season, against Rice, who went into a fifth set against WKU on Sept. 28 before the Lady Toppers sealed the victory at home.

The last game on the regular-season road schedule for WKU is Marshall (13-14, 7-5 C-USA).

Despite the impressive winning percentage WKU has earned, the Lady Toppers have still yet to crack the top 25 this season in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, but have received six votes and currently sit at No. 32.

WKU is one of just six teams in all of Division I with 23 wins. The teams ranking above the Lady Toppers with 23 wins in the AVCA poll are No. 2 Washington (23-0), No. 3 Florida State (23-0) and No. 10 Colorado State (23-2).

This marks the fourth week in a row and the fifth time this season that Head Coach Travis Hudson’s youthful squad has received votes in the AVCA poll. The Lady Toppers have either received votes or ranked in the AVCA top 25 at least one time in each of the past four seasons.

The program Hudson helped build peeked in 2013 at No. 16, and spent 14 consecutive weeks in the top 25 between 2012 and 2013.

Despite the win over the weekend against UAB, WKU dropped in the NCAA RPI from No. 38 to No. 44. Of the 43 teams above WKU, 13 conferences are represented, and the Lady Toppers still hold as the highest-ranked team in Conference USA.

WKU is 2-1 against teams ranked higher than it in the RPI rankings with wins over Purdue (33) and Lipscomb (38) while the lone loss is to Cal State Northridge (36).

After the season’s final road swing, the Lady Toppers will come back home for one more weekend of regular-season play before the inaugural season is completed and postseason play begins.  

The first match will be against University of Texas El Paso, who WKU dished a sweep to on Oct. 19, on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. The team’s last fixture will feature a rivalry matchup against Middle Tennessee on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.