Lady Tops gearing up for Texas road swing

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 currently occupies the 37th spot in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll that was released Monday, with an overall record of 19-4 and a 7-0 conference clip.

The Lady Toppers are one of two teams that remain unbeaten in league play, but that will change on Friday when WKU and the University of Texas at San Antonio (11-7, 7-0) go head-to-head in San Antonio.

This marks the second time this season the Lady Toppers have received AVCA votes. The team notched a No. 28 national ranking after beating then-No. 8 Purdue in early September. This is the fifth season in a row WKU has nabbed AVCA votes, peaking in 2013 at No. 16.

WKU will head down to Texas coming off an impressive homestand this past weekend.

Freshman outside hitter Alyssa Cavanaugh was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week after dominant offensive performances in WKU’s wins over Charlotte (12-12, 1-6), Marshall (9-12, 3-3) and North Texas (12-8, 3-4). Cavanaugh earned these honors after posting 45 kills (4.50 per set) in WKU’s three wins last week.

With just 11 errors in 81 swings, and a .420 hitting percentage for the week, she aided the Lady Toppers’ strong performances that yielded only one lost set of the 10 sets played last week.

“I’m just trying to do my job. I want to do my part,” Cavanaugh said. “I feel like that’s a strength we have in our team, that everyone does their part.”

Senior middle hitter Heather Boyan earned Defensive Player of the Week.

Boyan tallied 15 blocks on the near-perfect week for WKU, averaging out to 1.5 blocks per game. Her 15 blocks over the week moved her into sixth all-time in program history with 311 career blocks.

Head Coach Travis Hudson will look at these players for consistency this weekend, and while WKU’s offensive and defensive prowess shined last week through Cavanaugh and Boyan, the team and staff are still very aware of weak points.

“Serving has been up and down all year, and we still struggle a bit,” Assistant Coach Kristi Griffin said. “Mainly with misses, but that’s something we have really started to focus on and get worked out.”

Another possible area of concern could be fatigue and injury. Last week, Lady Topper fans saw Cavanaugh in a leg brace and junior outside hitter Haley Bodway with her entire thigh heavily wrapped.

Still, Hudson maintains he is “not really” concerned about the injuries.  

“We are fortunate that we haven’t had anything serious all year,” Hudson said. “Bodway just has to work herself back into game-shape, her hamstring is healed, and that brace made Alyssa’s injury look a lot worse than it was. She just hyperextended her knee and we wanted something to give her some support.”

Despite the injuries, WKU faces a UTSA team that hasn’t dropped a game since Sep. 19 against LSU. UTSA has won 24 of its last 28 sets.

The preseason C-USA favorites won’t be the only challenge awaiting the Lady Toppers in Texas.

On Sunday, WKU will travel to El Paso to clash with UTEP (4-14, 2-5) before a week of home games against FIU and FAU.