Volleyball team hosts WKU Invitational this weekend

Austin Lanter

After picking up a win over a struggling Cincinnati squad Tuesday, the Lady Topper volleyball team are prepared to play host to a few teams this weekend at the WKU Invitational.

WKU (5-3) swept the Lady Bearcats, and the Lady Toppers will open the weekend’s tournament against Ohio.

Coach Travis Hudson said he was pleased with his team’s effort in the sweep over Cincinnati.

“We were way better than we’ve been, and hopefully that’s something we can continue this weekend,” Hudson said after the match. “I thought our first contact was better. I thought we served better…we have a lot of weapons offensively, and when we can get everybody involved like we did tonight, we’re pretty good.”

Senior setter Melanie Stutsman played a big role in the win with 37 assists.

She said the Lady Toppers had one of their best games of the season Tuesday.

“Everything just seemed to click,” Stutsman said. “The passing was good, serving was good, our hitters and I were connecting, and we were having a lot of fun. The things we worked on in practice so far this week are the things that we executed in the game.”

Defense was key for the Lady Toppers in the win as they held the Lady Bearcats to negative hitting percentages in the final two sets.

Sophomore middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp led the team in kills Tuesday with 11. Overall, WKU had four players record five or more kills. Defensive specialists Georgia O’Connell, a freshman, tallied 10 digs on the night while senior Ashley Potts had nine.

“We really came together tonight I thought and worked well in all aspects,” Potts said. “…We wanted to take pride in stopping people, and I think we did that tonight.”

Cincinnati leads the all-time series against WKU with a record of 17-5, but the Lady Toppers have won the last two matches after the Bearcats had won 11 straight.

The Lady Toppers are also currently enjoying their 14th straight week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll — the school is currently ranked No. 21 in the NCAA. This weekend the team will host the WKU Invitational tournament as WKU invites Ohio, Virginia and University of Nevada, Las Vegas to Diddle Arena.

“These teams are really good. They can really play,” Stutsman said. “If we’re not focused, they can definitely upset us or beat us, but we just have to focus on us right now.”

Hudson said that every game will be close this weekend and hopes his team can outlast its opponents.

“Every single match of that tournament, no matter which two teams are matched up, is going to be a long competitive one,” Hudson said. “Our kids just have to settle in and be ready to go to war for as long as it takes.

“I don’t think it’ll be the team that’s most talented this weekend — I think it’ll be the one that competes the hardest and the longest, and hopefully that’ll be the home team.”