Lady Tops set to open conference play at L.A. Tech

Sophomore defensive specialist Kaelin Grimes digs the ball during WKU’s 3-0 win over Belmont on Tuesday, Sept. 2 in Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. Mike Clark/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

WKU volleyball starts Conference USA play tomorrow at 7 p.m. when they travel to Ruston, Louisiana to face L.A. Tech (7-7). The Lady Toppers will come back to Diddle Arena for more C-USA action on Sunday at noon to take on Rice (10-4).

Being the first C-USA match in program history, these will be uncharted waters for the Lady Toppers (12-4) in multiple ways.

“It’s a new day — we start conference play and games start mattering a little more,” Head Coach Travis Hudson said. “We have one against L.A. Tech that on paper, we should win, and then we come back home and play a much bigger one against Rice.” 

Unlike WKU, L.A. Tech has already played one conference game, dropping it in a sweep to Southern Miss (12-6). L.A. Tech is only 2-2 at home and of their seven losses, five of them have been lost in sweeps.

“We won’t have mid-week games anymore, and we won’t have as many games on the weekends, so it gives us more time to focus on the opponent and the scouting reports,” senior middle hitter Heather Boyan said. “At the same time, we still need to focus as a team on ourselves and where we are at so we can beat teams.”

As WKU enters its first season in C-USA, five Lady Toppers enter their first season as collegiate athletes.

“We are so young, we are so inexperienced,” Hudson said. “We have so much to do that the scoreboard is really insignificant. We really just want to be sound on every play.”

WKU faces an arguably more formidable opponent on Sunday when they clash with Rice.

“It’s exciting to go into a new conference that is hopefully a step up from the conference that we were just in,” Boyan said. “As a competitor, you like to play the games where you know it’s going to be a harder match, so it is very exciting for me.”

Like WKU, Rice hasn’t yet played a C-USA game yet, but they face off against Southern Miss on Friday before Sunday’s matchup.