Volleyball team faces Louisiana foes this weekend

Austin Lanter

The WKU volleyball team will split time at home and on the road this weekend as they face both of the Sun Belt Conference’s Louisiana teams.

The Lady Toppers will take on Louisiana-Monroe at home Friday at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for a Sunday match at Louisiana-Lafayette.

WKU (15-4, 5-0 Sun Belt Conference) is on a nine-match winning streak and has only dropped two sets during that span — neither of which were to Sun Belt teams.

Together with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the Lady Toppers sit atop the conference standings as the only undefeated team in conference play.

ULM, on the other hand, has only one win in five conference games this season and is 5-15 overall. ULL has a winning record so far this season of 12-7, but is 2-3 in conference play.

Usually, WKU plays the two Louisiana teams as a road swing. In the last 12 games against Sun Belt teams, the Lady Toppers have not dropped a single set. Last year, WKU swept both Louisiana schools 3-0 on its way to a perfect 15-0 regular season in the conference.

Coach Travis Hudson said it will be interesting to play one match at home and the other away this year.

“It’s going to be really strange playing both the Louisiana schools, one here and one 10 hours away,” Hudson said. “Lafayette has always been one of my least favorite places to play. I think it’s a hard place to go play and win.”

Senior defensive specialist Ashley Potts echoed Hudson and said that the two Louisiana teams are just like every other team in the conference.

“We have to come ready to play and not take any team for granted,” Potts said.

First up for WKU will be ULM. Despite the losing record for the Warhawks, senior setter Melanie Stutsman said the team will have to go into the game focused.

“I do know that Monroe is at the bottom part of the conference, so we have to be very prepared because we’re going to see some different things that we haven’t seen,” Stutsman said. “It’s more about us this weekend and about how we execute and play than it is about them.”

For Hudson, the youth of the Monroe team is something that he thinks they have been struggling with.

Currently, there are five underclassmen and only one senior on the Lady Warhawk roster. Hudson believes the younger players are a bit overwhelmed on game day, much like the two freshmen on the WKU squad.

“Monroe has a new coaching staff in there that has them playing a much better brand of volleyball,” he said. “They’re very, very young. He’s (ULM coach Patrick Hiltz) got a ton of young kids playing significantly for them. They’re still trying to find themselves a little bit.”

The match between WKU and ULM will also be the teams annual “Dig 4 Pink” game to support Breast Cancer Awareness month. All fans wearing Pink to the game will get in free while the first 250 fans will receive a free pink rally towel.

The Lady Toppers then hit the road for a Sunday match with ULL at noon.