LOUISVILLE — A 1-2 start to the season isn’t what WKU volleyball had in mind coming into this weekend’s Active Ankle Challenge at the KFC Yum! Center, hosted by the University of Louisville.
But after losing to Louisville Friday night and splitting games against Penn State and Morehead State on Saturday, that’s where the Lady Toppers stand after their first weekend of the season.
Louisville’s Lady Cardinals defeated WKU 3-1 Friday night 25-20, 25-17, 26-28, 25-12.
Jordyn Skinner led the Lady Topper offense with a double-double with 12 kills and career-high 23 digs.
WKU gave up an early 4-1 lead by allowing a seven point run from Louisville in the second set.
U of L went on to defeat WKU 25-17.
Facing a shutout to begin the year, WKU trailed U of L 24-22 in the third set.
The Lady Toppers tied the score up to 26 and then a Janee’ Diggins kill and a Louisville error gave WKU its first set victory of the night.
But the Lady Cards bounced back to defeat WKU 25-12 in the match-clinching fourth set.
The Lady Toppers played better on Saturday, as coach Travis Hudson predicted, but it didn’t happen until the second set against No. 3 Penn State.
Penn State used its size advantage at the net to jump out to a 4-0 lead in the first set before WKU could get on the board.
With 10 players on the Penn State roster at least six feet tall, WKU found it difficult to kill the ball.
WKU fought back to bring the score within two at 7-5, but that was a close as Penn State would allow.
The Lady Toppers fell in the first set 25-10.
WKU found its rhythm in the second set, holding on to a 17-14 lead before the Nittany Lions roared back to lead at 22-18.
A WKU rally wouldn’t be enough though, they dropped the second set 25-22.
The same song was sung for the third and final set of the afternoon. Consecutive kills from Haley Bodway brought the Lady Toppers close to Penn State, trailing 24-22.
But a Penn State kill shut out WKU for a 3-0 victory.
Skinner, the defending Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, said the final match of the afternoon against Morehead State was one the Lady Toppers knew they had to win to set the tone for the rest of the year.
“On paper the other teams (Louisville and Penn State) were supposed to win,” said Skinner. “We knew that the Morehead game was the one we really had to win.
“I think we came back from those two losses, did what we had to do, and played really hard.”
The Lady Toppers dominated the Lady Eagles of Morehead State from start to finish, shutting them out 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-17).
Ashley Potts led the defense with 17 digs followed by Skinner, who posted her second double-double of the tournament, finishing with 13 kills and 11 digs.
Skinner now has 26 double-doubles in her WKU career.
Melanie Stutsman now has the sixth most assists in school history, 2,697, after recording 26 in the victory over Morehead.
The Lady Toppers will play their home opener against the Austin Peay Lady Governors at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Diddle Arena.
“We just have to focus on playing our game,” Skinner said. “This early in the season it’s about figuring out the kinks of our own team rather than figuring out what the other team is going to do.
“It will be good to get back home — have the crowd involved — and get back into that game time experience.”