Lady Toppers win home opener

Austin Lanter

The No. 16 Lady Topper volleyball team defeated Ohio Valley Conference preseason favorite Belmont 3-1 Tuesday in its first home game of the 2013 campaign.

The Lady Toppers dropped the first set to the Bruins 25-22, ending their streak of 30 straight sets won at home, before winning the next three to secure the victory.

The last time WKU lost a set at home before tonight was nearly one year ago on Sept. 8, 2012 in a 3-1 loss to Ohio State. The win also keeps WKU undefeated against the Lady Bruins, sporting a perfect 15-0 record against the Nashville team.

“Tonight, I thought we were really tight,” coach Travis Hudson said after the game. “It might have just been the first home game and the crowd, but I thought we were really out there worried, gosh we’re ranked, we’re supposed to (win). I just thought we were tight and didn’t execute very well.”

Senior defensive specialist Ashley Potts led the Lady Toppers with 13 digs on the night. She said she was disappointed the team came out flat in its home opener but glad her teammates were able to rebound.

“It’s kind of fun always coming back, but I don’t think we should have lost that first one (set),” Potts said. “We just gave a lot of unforced errors and they came out and played well. That’s all we can ask for.”

Engle and senior outsider hitter Paige Wessel led the team in kills Tuesday with 12 a piece, a career best for Engle.

Hudson said Engle’s performance was a product of her improvement over the offseason.

“It’s what she’s been doing right for the last nine months,” Hudson said. “Rachel’s a kid that has always been blessed with fun athleticism. If you don’t like watching that kid soar through the air, you’re missing something. She’s worked so hard.”

The recorded attendance for the game was 562, and it was an atmosphere that Hudson and the team enjoyed.

“It was awesome man, it was needed,” Hudson said. “We got over that hump in game four and really started rolling and feeding off the crowd. But great student turnout. I can’t thank the students enough. They’re the difference makers. Hopefully it’s something we’ll see again a week from tonight.”

WKU will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend for the Four Points by Sheraton Seminole Invitational hosted by Florida State. The team is slated to play No. 23 Ohio State, Florida A&M and No. 15 Florida State in the tournament.