Wessel has career night in Lady Topper sweep

Paige Wessel/WKUsports.com

Elliott Pratt

Arkansas State gave WKU all they could handle Friday night in Diddle Arena, but the Lady Toppers notched their 15th straight win with yet another Sun Belt Conference sweep over the Red Wolves.

ASU entered Friday night’s contest tied with Arkansas-Little Rock for first place in the SBC West.

Energy and emotions were high throughout the game as the team honored those who have battled cancer.

Noelle Langenkamp’s mother, Carmen, is a three-time cancer survivor. Noelle said her mother was the key motivation to her performance on the night.

“(Cancer) has touched so many of our parents and the WKU family so we wanted to come out tonight and represent them,” Langenkamp said. “Personally, I kept thinking about my mom and all the struggles she’s gone through, so I wanted to come out and play with a lot of passion.”

Passion is exactly what the Lady Toppers brought to the court, and so did Arkansas State.

A kill and a block from Langenkamp helped WKU set up a comfortable 6-1 lead to begin the first set. WKU spread the ball around evenly on offense that led to a 25-16 set one victory.

ASU challenged WKU unlike any other conference team has this year in Diddle Arena during the second set.

Tied at nine, the Lady Toppers put together a 5-0 run to go up 14-9 in the second frame. Later on, ASU would bounce back to pull within two at 23-21, but WKU prevailed with a 25-21 set win and a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. 

That frame marked the 30th consecutive set the Lady Toppers have won.

Coach Travis Hudson said it was good for his team to battle out of a tough position like that.

“We were kind of fighting for our lives there at the end of that set,” Hudson said. “We haven’t been in that position in a while and it was good to put our kids in that spot to see how they respond.

“I thought we played well. Arkansas State has a very good senior-led team and came to play tonight.”

Paige Wessel was already on pace for a solid performance, but eight kills in the third set marked a career high for the redshirt junior. 

WKU built a 7-3 lead behind Wessel’s three early kills before ASU would rally back to eventually pull the score within one at 11-10. From that point forward it was all Lady Toppers as the team pulled away with a 25-16 led by a career-high 17 kills and a .682 hitting percentage from Wessel.

She said the connection between she and setter Melanie Stutsman was the main reason for a highlight of a night.

“We worked a lot this week in practice on making that connection and it worked out well tonight,” Wessel said. “We worked really hard on trying to get it perfect and it showed tonight.”

WKU will face the nation’s leading offensive scorer in Edina Begic as they take on UALR Saturday at noon.