WKU makes history, knocks off No. 10 Dayton

Elliott Pratt

For the first time in WKU history, the Lady Toppers knocked off a Top 10 team on Friday. 

They did so by handing Dayton a 3-1 loss (17-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-20) at the WKU Tournament in Diddle Arena.

WKU has opened its own tournament 2-0 and will face No. 26 Ohio State and IUPUI Saturday.

The Lady Toppers opened the tournament Friday morning with a bang against Tennessee Tech in a 3-0 shutout (25-20, 25-18, 25-13).

Coach Travis Hudson said the two wins were “a tale of two matches”.

“Our kids just played unbelievably hard tonight,” Hudson said. “This morning we were disappointed in everything we put out there. 

“We knew how hard we would have to play against Dayton. In any sport when you play that hard good things start happening, and good things happened for us tonight.”

The Lady Toppers put up a good fight versus Dayton in the first set.  A kill from Paige Wessel tied the score at three early in the first set before the Lady Flyers paved a 3-0 run en route to an eventual 25-17 victory. 

The defense put on a different look heading into the second set.

The defense had to step up its efforts after the first set, junior Ashley Potts said.

“We were serving great, and we knew that,” Potts said. “We had to start at the net with blocking. We were focused on each point individually, and that’s how we won it.”

Throughout the entire set, neither team could pull away for more than one point. But a kill from Paige Wessel and multiple Dayton errors gave WKU a 25-21 set win. 

“Dayton is a really good team and we knew we had to come out strong,” Wessel said. “Offensively we were really good, but I think defense is what really won it.”

Tied at six in the third set, the Lady Toppers used a couple of service aces to put together a 8-0 run to lead 14-6 before a Dayton timeout.

Two kills from Wessel and one from Haley Bodway and Heather Boyan set up another WKU scoring streak to put the lead at 19-10. More outstanding defense from the Lady Toppers led to a 25-15 win to put the score at 2-1.

Dayton fired out of the gates into the fourth set, advancing to a 10-8 lead.  Two straight kills from Jordyn Skinner knotted the score. 

The rest of the match was a back and forth contest that will go down as one of the biggest regular season wins in Diddle Arena.

Skinner’s five kills in the set helped the Lady Toppers prevail over Dayton 3-1, giving them their eighth straight win on the year.

Hudson said Friday’s win was “special”.

“This kind of atmosphere is what I’ve spent 18 years trying to make,” Hudson said. “Dayton is a quality team and our kids stood toe-to-toe and made special plays.

“I certainly have never beaten a Top 10 team. Diddle Arena is a special place and it was the perfect win tonight.”

Skinner led the offense with 16 kills, with Wessel following with 12 kills on 21 attempts. Melanie Stutsman threw down five kills, 45 assists and a team-high four service-aces.

Errors hurt the Lady Toppers to open the first set in the opener against TTU. 

TTU took advantage of four straight attack errors from WKU to lead 6-4 early in the set. But a series of kills from Stutsman and Boyan helped the Lady Toppers gain a 21-15 lead before winning 25-20.

Neither WKU nor TTU attacked the ball well in set one. The Golden Eagles hit with a .069 percentage while WKU had a percentage of .061

TTU jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in set two after more attach errors from the Lady Toppers. 

WKU took its first lead at 13-12 and never looked back. Kills from Boyan, Stutsman, and freshmen Haley Bodway advanced WKU to a 25-18 victory.

A series of Lady Topper scoring runs was the deciding factor in the third set. A 5-1 jump gave WKU a 13-9 lead resulting in a TTU timeout. 

Right out of the break, an 8-1 Lady Topper scoring streak lead to a WKU sweep with a 25-13 set win.

As a team, the hitting percentage for the Lady Toppers improved as the match progressed. WKU hit .375 while TTU averaged at just .094.

Boyan led WKU with 10 kills, two service aces, 4 digs. Stutsman finished with six kills on 11 attempts and 37 assists.

WKU will host Ohio State at 12:30 p.m. and IUPUI at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

“Tomorrow going to be such a challenge because those teams are just opposite of each other,” Hudson said. “Ohio State is a big, strong, physical team. 

“IUPUI is a really skilled ball control team.  They’re two extremely different challenges and we’ll have to play extremely well to get either one of them.”