Lady Toppers drop to No. 21 after 1-2 weekend in Florida

Austin Lanter

The Lady Topper volleyball team came back from a trip to Florida this weekend with a pair of losses to some of the toughest competition on WKU’s schedule.

WKU (4-3) was ranked No. 21 in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association poll after going 1-2 in Tallahassee, Fla. The Lady Toppers beat Florida A&M over the weekend but fell to Ohio State and Florida State.

In the first game of the weekend, the then-No. 16 Lady Toppers found themselves battling No. 23 Ohio State. The Lady Buckeyes beat WKU at Diddle Arena on Sept. 8 last year, which was the last time WKU lost at home.

Coach Travis Hudson said he hasn’t lost any faith in his team despite coming home with a couple of losses.

“It’s a disappointing weekend only with respect to the fact that we were, I think, in a winnable situation, especially against Ohio State and Florida State too, for that matter,” Hudson said. “But there’s no damage done going 1-2 to that level of competition, and we feel good about ourselves moving forward.”

WKU and Ohio State (6-0) went the distance Friday, playing all five sets with the Lady Buckeyes coming out on top in the end 3-2.

All five sets were decided by five points or less. The Lady Toppers took the first set in a close one, 25-23, but OSU was able to respond in the second set with a two point victory of its own, 27-25.

WKU proceeded to take set three with a 2-1 lead, but the Buckeyes took sets four and five —  25-20 and 15-11 respectively — to give the Lady Toppers their second loss of the season.

Hudson said the second set was the key.

“We lost that five-setter to Ohio State in the second set,” Hudson said. “We were serving for the set in game two and missed a serve and then let it get away from us. We should’ve been out of there in three, but we weren’t.

“You can sit behind this desk and be disappointed that you didn’t win or encouraged that you were in a position to win against some of the best teams in the country.”

Later that day, WKU was able to respond with a 3-0 sweep of Florida A&M.

The Lady Toppers held their Florida A&M to a -.087 hitting percentage, marking the first time since 2011 that WKU held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage.

The team was dominant at the net, posting 42 kills and holding FAMU to just 15 for the match. Sophomore middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp led the team with nine kills in the match.

Junior middle hitter Heather Boyan led the team with 22 kills over the course of Friday’s games while senior outside hitter Paige Wessel tallied 19 kills and hit a team-high .441. Senior defensive specialist Ashley Potts posted 39 digs and senior setter Melanie Stutsman recorded 80 assists.

Langenkamp followed up her successful match against FAMU with a career setting day against No. 15 Florida State, recording 14 kills in the game. However, the Lady Toppers ultimately fell to the host Lady Seminoles 3-1 in the final game of the tournament.

Boyan added 12 kills in the match while Potts tallied 15 more digs and Stutsman chipped in 36 assists in the losing effort.

“We’re just trying to concentrate on what we have ahead of us rather than looking back on what happened this weekend,” Boyan said. “We like playing tough schedules and it’s fun…but it’s good to know that we’ve gotten through that tough part. But we do still have a few challenges ahead.”

The Lady Toppers will look to rebound from the weekend Tuesday at 7 p.m. as they welcome Cincinnati to Diddle Arena. The Lady Bearcats are 0-6 on the season and have yet to win a set in the 2013 campaign.