Lady Toppers back to work after winning Sun Belt title


Junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner was named the Most Valuable Player of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament last weekend. WKU dropped just one set in three matches to win the tournament and clinch an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Lucas Aulbach

It’s been two days since WKU won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

While the Lady Toppers took the time to celebrate their victory, Head Coach Travis Hudson on Monday said the team was right back to its normal routine as the week began.

“I think our players thought they’d really done something and thought they were going to get a day off this morning, but certainly they didn’t,” he said. “They were in the weight room at 8. We still feel like we have some matches to win.”

WKU (31-3) has never advanced in the NCAA Tournament, but Hudson said the team is serious about making a run this year.

The Lady Toppers are in a good position to do so. They’ve won 10 straight matches and were ranked No. 24 in the country in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, the first time in school history WKU has been in the Top 25.

“My first year here we finished 298th in the country, so it’s been quite a journey to get here,” Hudson said. “It’s been the work of a lot of people in and around the program through the years.”

Hudson said the Lady Toppers started playing their best volleyball with about 10 matches to go in the season, when his players began to show more dedication in practice.

He said for most teams that moment comes after a loss, but he was fortunate enough to have his team go through it after winning.

“From that point, we’ve hit over .300 as a team,” he said. “We’ve just really taken off and we’re certainly playing the best we have all year.”

Junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner played a big role in the Lady Toppers’ success this season. She recorded 441 kills and 397 digs over the course of the season and was awarded Sun Belt Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the Sun Belt Tournament.

Hudson said she deserves to get All-American recognition for her work on offense and defense.

“It’s literally like two recruits,” he said. “In our sport you have kids that just play front row, kids that just play back row and for her to have the ability to play all six rotations, obviously she impacts us a great deal.”

Skinner is the only player in the Sun Belt ranked in the Top 10 in kills, digs and service aces. She said advancing to the postseason has motivated the Lady Toppers all season.

“We’ve been ready since the start of the year,” she said. “That’s been our big goal and we’re excited to finally be there.”

The NCAA Tournament selections will be announced at 5 p.m. on Nov. 27th.

The tournament bracket seeds the Top 16 teams to host the first and second rounds. From there, teams are thrown into brackets based on geography.

Hudson said he doesn’t like how the bracket is set up because it causes uneven distribution in brackets. He said one bracket could include three Top 40 teams in the ratings percentage index while another could include teams that are no better than 240 in the RPI rankins.

But even so, Hudson said he’s hopeful the Lady Toppers can keep their winning streak going deep into the tournament.

“I could coach this team for four or five more months,” he said. “They do things the right way, they’re great kids, and we just want to keep it going as longs as we can.”