WKU makes first trip to Alabama since bus accident

Lucas Aulbach

It’s been more than a year since the bus driver taking the WKU volleyball team to South Alabama suffered a heart attack at the wheel, nearly causing the team to be involved in a horrific bus accident.

Their bus nearly crashed as the driver lost consciousness on Interstate 65 near Athens, Ala.

Senior middle hitter Lindsay Williams said she still can’t help thinking about it sometimes.

“I try not to think about it too much because I don’t want to get myself down or make myself scared to do anything,” she said. “I think back on it now and I just kind of think that it’s a miracle that all of us are okay from it.”

The Lady Toppers will have to encounter those memories before they face their opponents this weekend. The team will be taking that nine-hour bus trip again as they head south to take on South Alabama on Friday and Troy on Saturday. 

Head Coach Travis Hudson said the remaining members from last year’s team can’t help themselves from thinking about it.

“It was really unique, when we were going down to Louisiana a couple of weeks ago, every time we hit a bump, everybody on the bus would kind of raise up except our two freshmen,” he said. “Our two freshmen were oblivious to it. It really reminds you how connected we all are.”

Williams said the incident helped those on the bus to put everything in perspective.

“We don’t want to dwell on it, but we do sometimes sit back at realize how lucky we were to get out of that situation unscathed and how blessed we are to be where we are today,” she said.

A big reason the people on the bus came away uninjured was Hudson, who took control of the wheel when the driver lost consciousness and kept the bus from veering into oncoming traffic.

Hudson said his role in looking out for the team went beyond just the moment, though.

“I just wanted to take care of our players, support them and be there in the aftermath,” he said. “It was a tragic event and certainly it changed all of our lives. I just felt really responsible, that I needed to be there for them in the minutes, hours and days afterwards.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Potts said while memories of the incident shouldn’t affect the way the Lady Toppers play, they will be thinking about it.

“I’m sure it’ll be on our minds going out there. It’s always on our minds,” she said.

WKU has been on a role lately and hopes to bring some of that momentum to Alabama. 

The Lady Toppers were No. 26 in the most recent RPI poll and were the first team in the country to reach 25 wins this season.

WKU is 2-0 against South Alabama and Troy this season after sweeping both of them at Diddle earlier this month. These matches are on the road, however, and Hudson said both teams need wins to qualify for the eight-team Sun Belt conference tournament.

“These are two teams that we handled pretty well here at home, but but going on the road is a totally different story,” he said. “They’re two teams that are fighting to get placement into the Sun Belt tournament, so they’re going to need these games desperately.”