Volleyball team back on track after two sweeps

Austin Lanter

The Lady Toppers bounced back from last week’s loss to Louisiana-Lafayette with a pair of sweeps and Arkansas-Little Rock and Arkansas State this weekend.

UALR (15-6, 7-2 Sun Belt Conference) was previously unbeaten in the Sun Belt Conference and sat atop the league standings before the 3-0 loss to WKU Friday night at home.

The next day WKU traveled to Jonesboro, Ark., to play Arkansas State (10-13, 6-3 SBC) which resulted in another sweep for the Lady Toppers. WKU  (18-5, 8-1 SBC) has now swept 12 opponents this year and is alone at the top of the Sun Belt standings.

Coach Travis Hudson said the two wins should help the Lady Toppers as they enter the stretch run of the season.

“In pursuit of a conference championship they’re all big right now,” Hudson said. “We’re at the halfway point. It’s going to continue to be about us getting better at things. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine.

The Lady Toppers came out with the sweep against UALR, but it wasn’t easy. WKU won the three sets by scores of 28-26, 25-20, and 25-21.

Junior middle hitter Heather Boyan said a tough win like that was good for the team.

“That was definitely a really good match for us to show how we’ve grown as a team,” Boyan said. “We started out at the beginning of the season where we’d be down a few points and it’d be hard for us to come back.

“I think we’ve come a long way. We have that mentality where we’re not going to give up no matter how far down we are.”

The team held one of the nation’s top scorers, UALR junior Edina Begic, to 12 kills in the match. Entering the match Begic was averaging over five kills a set and earlier this year recorded 36 kills in one match.

“She was a little banged up,” Hudson said about Begic. “She rolled her ankle about a week ago or so. She’s still awfully good. She certainly wasn’t her normal self.”

WKU won at Arkansas State by a comfortable margin, with Boyan leading the way with 11 kills and five blocks, including four straight kills to end the match in the third set.

Boyan led the Lady Toppers over the weekend recording 24 kills in the two matches. For her efforts, she was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in her career.

Senior setter Melanie Stutsman had another strong weekend for the team as she tallied 82 assists in the six total sets, good enough for an average of over 13 assists per set. She was also honored by the Sun Belt as the Setter of the Week for her efforts.

WKU will hit the road again this weekend as the team travels to Monroe, La., for a match against Louisiana-Monroe (5-20, 1-8 SBC) on Friday. The Lady Toppers defeated the Warhawks earlier this season 3-1.