Volleyball stays undefeated in league play with sweep of Charlotte

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

Billy Rutledge

The WKU volleyball team (17-4, 5-0) completed their 12th sweep of the season on Tuesday, defeating the Charlotte 49ers (12-10, 1-4) in straight sets. The win extended the team’s undefeated conference record to 5-0 and its current win streak to six games.

The first two sets were clockwork for Head Coach Travis Hudson and the Lady Toppers as WKU trailed only once during the second set. Freshman setter Jessica Lucas led the way with 31 assists on the night while senior middle hitter Heather Boyan and freshman outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh led the team in kills with 12 and nine, respectively.

It wasn’t until the third set that the 49ers came alive and looked to threaten the Lady Toppers in their seventh home game of the season. Charlotte jumped out to an 8-2 lead after the intermission before WKU regained its swagger.

Cavanaugh helped WKU get started again with two straight points to begin the comeback, which ultimately led to a 25-18 third set victory.

“I feel like we started out a little slow, but by the end, we picked it up,” Cavanaugh said. “Once we get our momentum going, there’s no way that any team can stop us.”

Despite the victory, Hudson was less than thrilled with his team’s performance. Coming off a weekend road trip in Florida, Hudson felt like the Lady Toppers’ mental game wasn’t all there.

“We weren’t very sharp tonight mentally. I was a little concerned about that coming off the long road trip. We didn’t get back until late Sunday night,” Hudson said. “We had our legs under us, but I don’t know if we had our focus in us, and it was disappointing.”

WKU’s defensive performance was key to the Lady Toppers’ seventh home win of the season. Sophomore defensive specialist Georgia O’Connell led the team with 12 digs, while fellow sophomore Kaelin Grimes and Lucas contributed nine of their own. The team totaled nine blocks on the game compared to Charlotte’s six.

A poor hitting percentage also plagued the 49ers throughout the game. Charlotte’s .135 mark was not enough to match the Lady Toppers’ .299. Charlotte’s total of 31 kills also fell short to WKU’s 43.

On Friday, the Lady Toppers will play another home conference game, this time against Marshall (9-10, 3-1). The Herd comes into the game with a .167 hitting percentage and an average of 12.2 kills a set. Marshall is 4-1 in its last five games, with their most recent loss coming against North Texas, 3-2, last Sunday.

“I’ve kept it really simple with our kids — I want to get better, and I want to play really hard,” Hudson said. “If we play really hard and lose, I can live with that. We’re young, inexperienced; we’ve got a lot of holes we’re filling. There are a lot of reasons why our team can lose. I just never want one of them to be that we got outplayed. Hopefully by Friday you will see us play with a different level of intensity again.”