WKU gets familiar with Loyola Marymount

WKU head women’s volleyball coach Travis Hudson addresses his team after their win over Arkansas State.

Elliott Pratt

Coach Travis Hudson has had some time to scout WKU’s first opponent in the NCAA Tournament — Loyola Marymount.

The teams will meet at 7:30 p.m. CT in Palo Alto, Calif.

Hudson said when looking at the film, “it’s like looking in a mirror.”

“They do a lot of the things that we do,” Hudson said Monday. “They’re balanced. They have a big-time outside hitter, but they’re still very balanced and system-wise it’s not a whole lot different that what we do.

“I guess that’s a little easier for us to prepare but a little easier for them to prepare as well.”

LMU comes out of the West Coast Conference, a league that’s sending six teams to the Tournament. Two of the teams from the league are ranked in the top 20 — No. 16 BYU (26-3, 13-3 WCC) and No. 19 San Diego (21-6, 13-3).

As WKU’s Ashley Potts will anchor the back row as the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, LMU (18-12, 8-8) will present their own dominant presence in Betsi Metter, who split the WCC Defensive P.O.Y. award with BYU’s Nicole Warner and San Francisco’s Rebecca Kopilovitch.

Hudson said that LMU coming out of a highly competitive league should give the Lions an assuring confidence heading into the match.

“One of the differences is, is in their league, you’ll look at their record and think they’re a marginal team, but they’re in a league that sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament this year,” Hudson said. “They’re going to be battle-tested and they’ve seen high-level play everyday and that won’t be something that worries them.”

Much like the Lady Toppers, LMU bases their success offensively, ranking in the top half of every offensive category in the WCC.

Their offense will feature outside hitter Kathleen Luft, who averages 4.14 kills per set.

WKU has experience shutting down opposing offensive threats. The Lady Toppers held Edina Begic of Arkansas Little-Rock, the nation’s leader in kills per set at the time of play, to only two kills on 22 attempts for a negative hitting percentage.

Hudson said the key for the Lady Toppers is to stay focused on their own game and not overlook LMU.

“They’ve been awfully curious coming by my office today,” Hudson said. “We’ll get film in front of them pretty quickly to kind of let them digest that. Then we’ll get in the gym and start focusing on some of the things they do.

“I think one of the real big keys is just us sustaining a real high-level of play. That’s probably a big of a concern as I have because they’ve been forced to over the last several months, and we forced ourselves to at times. I think that’ll be an interesting situation the way that plays out.”