Volleyball goes undefeated during Florida road swing

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

Jonah Phillips

WKU volleyball (16-4, 4-0 Conference USA) didn’t drop a set this weekend, dishing out two sweeps to Florida International University (3-13, 0-3) and Florida Atlantic University (12-6, 3-2).

On Friday, the Lady Toppers took on FIU at FIU Arena in Miami.

“We played two pretty good teams. Offensively, they did some nice things,” assistant coach Kristi Griffin said. “But the things that we had been working on in practice defensively really showed through, so we were able to hold both of these teams well below what they are hitting on the year.”

Freshman outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh once again spearheaded the Lady Topper attack, marking her 12th match with double-digit kills. 

While it wasn’t their highest mark of the season, the Lady Toppers notched a .294 hitting percentage with 25 kills, but their strength was in their defense.

“Rachel Engle, I think, kind of flies under the radar,” Griffin said. “But I don’t think you can ever overestimate the value she brings to our defense flying around back there.”

Junior middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp recorded nine kills while putting up a match-high four solo blocks.

Freshman setter Jessica Lucas dished out 31 assists. She also contributed seven digs and six kills to the Lady Topper cause, while sophomore defensive specialist Georgia O’Connell put up 14 digs, seven assists and a pair of service aces.

Breezing past FIU in the first set 25-14, it would be the second that proved most difficult for the Lady Toppers’ young squad. The score was tied 10 different times in the set.

The set ended the saga at 27-25 after a kill from Langenkamp and an ace from freshman defensive specialist Jackie Scott.

After exploding into the third set with a 10-2 lead, the Lady Toppers sealed the sweep at 25-18.

WKU didn’t miss a beat when they traveled to Boca Raton on Sunday to take on FAU, winning again in sweeping fashion with scores of 25-21, 26-24 and 25-18.

“I think they came out and were expecting to upset us,” Griffin said. “But we really stood up to it well and defended at a high level, and it was probably the best we played in the last month.”

Cavanaugh proved to be WKU’s key offensive threat against FAU, setting a season-best 14 kills.

“Alyssa Cavanaugh just keeps getting better and better on the left and getting more comfortable out there,” Griffin said.

“She has really become someone that you can count on to go out there and get it done, and being a freshman, you never really know that’s going to play out, but she has done a really great job.”

Lucas tallied 38 assists with seven digs. Langenkamp followed with 12 kills, marking an impressive .524 hitting percentage, while senior middle hitter Heather Boyan contributed nine kills and six blocks.

O’Connell led the Lady Toppers with 13 digs, while senior defensive specialist Mollie Pajakowski notched nine digs.

The Lady Toppers look to keep the momentum going this Tuesday in Diddle Arena against Charlotte at 6 p.m.