Unranked WKU heads to Dayton for Flyer Classic

Austin Lanter

The Lady Toppers will be back on the road this weekend as they travel to Dayton, Ohio for the Flyer Classic.

The tournament will be the fourth of the season for the Lady Toppers as they hold a 5-4 record in those tournaments after going 2-1 in their own tournament this past weekend.

This weekend will also mark the first time that WKU (7-4) has not played a team in or are receiving votes for the American Volleyball Coaches Association top 25 poll. So far, the Lady Toppers are 1-4 against those teams with the lone win coming at No. 21 Purdue, who was No. 16 at the time, in the Mortar Board Premier in Lafayette, Ind.

Until this week, WKU was also ranked in the AVCA top 25. In fact, this week marks the first time in 14 weeks that coach Travis Hudson’s squad has not been featured in the poll, despite going 3-1 last week.

“I think it’s about right,” Hudson said. “We’re about 29th this week, I think. It is what it is.

“I’m not too worried one way or the other. I think we’re ranked about where we should be based on what we’ve done…I think it’s fair. We’re way more concerned with where we are at the end of the year than where we are right now. We understand playing a schedule like this is not necessarily in our best interests in terms of wins-losses.”

For senior defensive specialist Ashley Potts, she said it’s about where the team wants to be.

“Of course we want to be in the top 25, but at the same time we feel like it wasn’t much of a distraction, but it was in the back of our minds all the time,” she said. “Now that we’re not in the top 25 but still receiving votes, that just makes us lock in and want to break into the top 25 again.”

In the Flyer Classic this weekend, WKU will be squaring off against host Dayton as well as Western Michigan and Wright State.

The Lady Toppers played Dayton (4-5) in last years WKU Invitational and beat the Flyers 3-1, who at the time was ranked No. 10 in the nation. As for Western Michigan (6-4) and Wright State (5-8), the team has losing records against those two, losing the only match they’ve played against WMU and losing four of five against Wright State.

“We’re going to expect competitive matches,” sophomore outside hitter Rachel Engle said. “We know that they’re going to want a piece of us. We just have to come in there and bring our A-game and do what we can to pull it out.”

Dayton, like WKU, was in the preseason AVCA top 25 poll and has since fallen out, but Hudson said they are a very good program. As for Western Michigan, he said they are perennially a very good team and will be comparable to the teams WKU faced in the tournament this past weekend.

Wright State, he added, has struggled over the past few years and he expects his team to be favored, but “you never know till you line up.”

Hudson, Potts and Engle all said that heading into the weekend, the team will need to focus on doing all the little things well.

“We’ve got to get better at just taking care of the ball, handling the ball,” Hudson said. “First contact, passing, serving — we need to do those things better. It’s kind of an interesting team I’m coaching right now. We’re taking care of the big things…the little things that very often keep you from playing at your highest level are the things we aren’t doing well.”

WKU will face the host team first, Friday at 6 p.m. The next morning at 10 a.m., the Lady Toppers will play Western Michigan and cap off the tournament at 4 p.m. against Wright State.