WKU wraps up perfect Sun Belt regular season

Freshman middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp completes a kill during the Friday night game against MTSU. Langenkamp contributed seven kills to the Lady Toppers winning score.

Elliott Pratt

A nail-biting third set threatened to extend No. 18 WKU’s regular season, but the Lady Toppers survived and shut out Middle Tennessee State Friday night in Diddle Arena, 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 27-25).

With the win, WKU (29-3, 15-0 Sun Belt Conference) clinched a Sun Belt regular season sweep.

As nearly 1,500 fans filled the seats for senior night, Sarah Rogers said the team was driven emotionally to take care of business on its home court against its archrival.

“For me and (fellow senior) Jordyn (Skinner) there were emotions all over,” Rogers said. “But we had to get locked in on the game. MTSU came and gave us a good game, which was fun and competitive for everyone to watch.”

Coach Travis Hudson said senior night presents different obstacles for his teams, and that Friday’s win was no different.

“Senior night is always funky,” Hudson said. “I can’t describe the emotion that was on the court, but we weren’t ourselves. It’s always hard to come out and close games like this with a lot of outside distraction, and we were lucky to finish it.”

WKU handled what has seemed like business as usual for the first half of the match.

But in third set the Blue Raiders captured the lead 21-20. Traditionally in that kind of situation, it would’ve been normal for Hudson to call a timeout to talk to his team.

But neither coach called time during the whole game, which was something Hudson said was intentional to prepare his team for the future.

“Great teams have to play through things,” Hudson said. “We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t been in that situation a lot, so being in it was a very valuable tool for us.

“We’re going to be in tight games moving forward, and they don’t need to be looking at me to find a way to get them out of it.”

WKU totaled seven team blocks in the first half while MTSU had zero. In the third set alone, the Blue Raiders tallied seven compared to the Lady Topper’s three.

Hitting percentages for both teams had changed drastically in the two halves of play. WKU held MTSU to a .082 percentage in the first half, but allowed the Blue Raiders 16 kills on a .229 hitting percentage in the third set.

For the Lady Toppers, they continued to impress offensively throughout the game, but seven attack errors in the third set allowed MTSU to keep the match close.

Sophomore Heather Boyan, who led the team with 10 kills, said both teams played differently coming out of the half.

“We had some plays where we didn’t do so hot and they came out hot and ready to play,” Boyan said. “They were trying to take the game against us.”

Junior Paige Wessel backed up Boyan with nine kills of her own. Skinner threw down seven kills and had nine digs. Rogers recorded five digs and two service aces, one of which came as the final point in the Lady Toppers’ win.

Next up is the Sun Belt Tournament, taking place in Diddle Arena next Thursday through Saturday. The top-seeded Lady Toppers will play Thursday at 5 p.m.