WKU volleyball sweeps Belmont in home opener

Junior middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp (13) spikes the ball for a point as Belmont’s Arianna Person (10) and Scarlet Gable (9) try to block during WKU’s 3-0 sweep over Belmont on Tuesday, Sept. 2 in Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. Mike Clark/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

The WKU volleyball team stands at 2-2 on the season after a dominant home-opening win against Belmont (1-3) on Tuesday night.

The Lady Toppers dealt out a straight-set sweep, sliding past the Bruins by scores of 25-23, 25-16 and 25-20.

Despite only trailing for one rally prior to heading into the third set, WKU found itself down early, but managed to fight back for the sweep.

“Today was no different than what we saw over the weekend,” Head Coach Travis Hudson said. “It’s like I said before the season started, we are going to have stretches where we look really good and we look really bad. We did both of those things tonight.”

Freshman middle hitter Sydney Engle made an immediate offensive impact in her home debut, tallying eight kills and recording a hitting percentage of .467, which was significantly better than the team average of .190.

Preseason Conference USA Player of the Year Noelle Langenkamp also added potency to the Lady Topper attack, garnering another eight kills and a hitting percentage of .375.

Sophomore defensive specialist Georgia O’Connell nearly eclipsed her career high in digs, notching 17.

“Georgia is a coach’s dream,” Hudson said. “You never worry about her psyche. She is a tough kid, she just wants to win — she was flying around out there tonight. I was very pleased with how she played.”

The most solid team play came in the second set, highlighted by a .256 Lady Topper hitting percentage, leading to a 25-16 win. Five kills from Engle led WKU in the set.

The third set proved the most challenging for the Lady Toppers.

Belmont struck first with a 3-0 advantage. WKU then claimed seven straight points and took an 11-6 lead going into the first timeout.

Yet, Belmont would not surrender. It mustered up a 7-1 run and they would eventually come within two points of WKU at 22-20 before the Lady Toppers closed out the set.

“They were definitely a good team,” freshman setter Jessica Lucas said. “Their momentum kept going, so we had to make sure we stayed aggressive to keep our momentum.”

Lucas managed six kills, a .286 hitting percentage and 29 of WKU’s 38 assists in her first home contest as a Lady Topper.

“We are just young,” Hudson said. “We would have a lead and let them back in it. It’s just where we are right now. We will get better as time goes by.”

The game marked Hudson’s 20th home opener, and he said he loves the transformations the program has taken in that time.

“When I started 20 years ago, there were 15 people in the stands and 13 of them were family,” Hudson said. “It’s just special to come out here and have the band playing the fight song and have the student section and community that care about this sport. It’s just something I’m really proud of.”