Sun Belt volleyball title coming down to last match for WKU, MTSU

At 14-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, WKU and Middle Tennessee will play for the league’s regular-season title Friday night in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Lucas Aulbach

Head Coach Travis Hudson has talked

for weeks about making the last volleyball match of the season


Hudson definitely got his


The Lady Toppers (27-3, 14-1 Sun

Belt Conference) will take on Middle Tennessee State (18-9, 14-1)

at 7 p.m. Friday in Murfreesboro in the last regular season Sun

Belt match either team will play, and a lot is on the


Both teams are 14-1 in the

conference and are tied with each other at the top of the Sun Belt

East Division. The winner of Friday’s match will be crowned

regular-season division and conference champion and will receive

the No. 1 seed in next week’s Sun Belt tournament.

Despite the stakes, senior middle

hitter Lindsay Williams said the Lady Toppers are looking at it as

just another match against their biggest rival.

“It’s always that rivalry that we’re

striving to get a win in,” she said. “It would definitely be

something that I would take from it as a bonus for the season we’ve

been having.”

WKU dropped a match against MTSU

earlier this season — the only home loss and only Sun Belt loss for

the Lady Toppers this season.

In fact, MTSU has had the Lady

Toppers’ number on the court for the past few years. WKU hasn’t

gotten a win over the Lady Raiders since 2008, when Williams was a


Junior defensive specialist Sarah

Rogers has yet to beat MTSU in her time in Bowling Green. She said

tonight’s match is a perfect opportunity to notch her first


“I’ve never beaten Middle Tennessee.

We haven’t beaten them in a couple of years,” she said. “Just the

fact that they came on our home court and beat us and we have a

chance to get back at them for the regular season championship has

us going.”


Hudson said despite WKU’s lack of

success against MTSU in recent years, he’ll be looking past the

rivalry between the two teams in tonight’s match.

“I’ve beaten Middle Tennessee a lot

of times in my career,” he said. “To me, it’s a chance to win a

championship, and I don’t care who’s on the other side.”

MTSU comes into Friday riding a

16-match winning streak and is also competing to be regular-season

champ and have the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt


Hudson said the stakes should bring

a big home crowd to the match in Murfreesboro.

“It’ll be loud, it’ll be rowdy, but

we always play really well down there,” he said. “I think we play

them better down there than we do here in Diddle Arena, for

whatever reason, so I don’t think our kids will be bothered or

uptight at all.”

Rogers said the rivalry always

brings out a wild crowd and the Lady Toppers are ready to deal with


“We just have to stay focused the

whole time,” she said. “Their fans are going to be rowdy and trying

to make a difference in the game and we’re prepared for


Hudson said the Lady Toppers will

have to manage the higher stakes because every game from now on

will have more on the line.

“I’d rather be on our sideline than

theirs on Friday night,” he said. “The boring regular season

matches are behind us at this point and it’s a lot of fun for these

kids from here on out.”