Volleyball team set for final regular season road trip

Austin Lanter

The Lady Topper volleyball team will hit the road one last time this season with a pair of matches this weekend in the state of Texas.

The Lady Toppers will have five more regular season matches after this weekend, all at home, before the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

The trip this weekend will also be the last road trip in the Sun Belt Conference, apart from the conference tournament. Beginning next season, WKU (20-5, 10-1 Sun Belt Conference) will be playing in Conference USA, a move coach Travis Hudson will have to get used to.

“It’s been a great run we’ve been on in this league,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for what a lot of the coaches are doing currently. I think the Sun Belt is getting better. I’m a creature of habit, and this is going to be different for me. I’m not so comfortable moving in a different direction because this is what I know.

“Conference USA is a great move for our athletic department as a whole, and we’re excited about it.”

WKU will be playing two newcomers to the league this weekend in Texas State and Texas-Arlington.

Both teams were swept by the Lady Toppers in Diddle Arena earlier this season. However, the two teams are currently No. 4 and No. 3 in the league, respectively.

Hudson said he expects them to stay there as well.

“This is a big test for our team,” Hudson said. “This is what we think will be two of the top four seeds in the tournament. We’re playing two really good teams on the road. Any win is a good win this weekend, that’s for sure.”

WKU and Texas State (16-10, 6-5 SBC) will play at 6 p.m. on Friday, and due to gym issues at Texas-Arlington, the Lady Toppers will play the very next day at 3 p.m. The campuses of Texas State and Texas-Arlington (15-9, 8-3 SBC) are about four hours apart from each other, causing another quick turnaround for WKU.

The Lady Toppers are preparing to play teams looking for revenge.

“We played really well when they were here,” sophomore outside hitter Rachel Engle said. “We’re just expecting them to still want a piece of us. We’re going to be on their home floor. We just need to be prepared and be ready.”

Currently sitting at the top of the Sun Belt standings, Engle said the Lady Toppers still have a lot on the line this weekend.

“The regular season conference could be won or lost in this weekend,” Engle said. “We have a two-game lead right now, and they’re both good teams. If we can go out there and take care of business, we should be able to take care of business in Diddle and we’ll be good.”