Volleyball team completes sweep in Dayton

Austin Lanter

The Lady Toppers had no trouble on the road this weekend, topping all three teams they faced in the Flyer Classic in Dayton, Ohio.

WKU (10-4) finished first, the first tournament win for the team through four attempts this season.

“It was really exciting to actually win our first preseason tournament this year,” senior outside hitter Paige Wessel said. “A strength of this weekend is that I thought that we competed hard, we served aggressive, which is what we’ve been working on, so I’m proud of that.”

WKU began the weekend playing Dayton, the host team. Last year, the team traveled to Bowling Green for the WKU Invitational and the Lady Toppers defeated the Lady Flyers 3-1, who were ranked No. 10 in the nation at the time.

This time the team defeated Dayton (6-6) by the same margin it did last year, 3-1, but coach Travis Hudson said the game was a struggle and the team definitely played better in the two games on Saturday.

“Again, we didn’t handle the ball great,” Hudson said. “We’re still working on first contact. Friday night was a big struggle. Saturday night we played better. We turned the corner and did some of the things we need to do better Saturday and I think it showed in the results.”

The Lady Toppers relied on Wessel in their first game of the tournament. Wessel tallied 21 kills in the match of the 54 team kills, setting a new career-high.

The next day another Lady Topper had a career day as sophomore outside hitter Haley Bodway recorded 17 kills in the match against Western Michigan (7-6), which WKU won 3-1. In that same match, setter Melanie Stutsman had 51 assists, a season-high for the senior.

WKU completed the tournament win with a sweep of Wright State (5-10) later in the day. In two sets, sophomore middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp had 12 kills with a hitting percentage of .647.

The Lady Toppers held Wright State to a .184 hitting percentage in the match and holding Western Michigan to only a .091 percentage.

“We’re always really good offensively, but this weekend I thought that we focused on stops,” Langenkamp said. “We didn’t consistently do it well, but I feel like there were peaks of time when we did it really well, stopping teams defensively.”

Freshman defensive specialist Georgia O’Connell also recorded her first career kill on Saturday against Western Michigan.

With the sweep this weekend, Hudson earned his 450th career win, giving him a .710 winning percentage, with a record of 450-184 over his 19 year career at WKU.

“To be honest, it didn’t seem that significant to me, I guess I don’t measure it in that way,” Hudson said. “It’s just great for this program. I mean we were struggling to win a game and to amass that many over 19 years is pretty neat.”

WKU will begin Sun Belt Conference play this weekend with a pair of road match-ups against Troy and South Alabama. The Lady Toppers will face Troy (5-9)  Friday at 7 p.m. and South Alabama (5-5) the next day at 5 p.m. The Trojans are currently on a four-game losing streak.