WKU wins Sun Belt regular-season title with win over MTSU

Senior middle hitter Lindsay Williams celebrates after scoring a point during WKU’s volleyball game against Middle Tennessee State. WKU came from two sets down to win 3-2 to win the Sun Belt Conference regular season title.

Lucas Aulbach

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — They had to come back from a two-set deficit to do it, but the Lady Toppers clinched the regular-season Sun Belt Conference title on Friday night with a win over Middle Tennessee.

Heading into next week’s Sun Belt tournament, WKU (28-3, 15-1 Sun Belt) won in five sets against an MTSU team that gave the Lady Toppers their only Sun Belt loss of the season in October.

It was the second time this season the Lady Toppers came back from being down two sets to win.

Head Coach Travis Hudson said the challenges they faced this season helped the Lady Toppers take their slow start in stride.

“This is a team that all year long has taken on every challenge,” he said. “We haven’t wavered all year when we’ve been in tough situations.”

The win is a weight off the shoulders of a WKU program that hadn’t beaten rival MTSU (18-10, 14-2) since 2008. Hudson said he was proud of the way many of his players got their first win over the Lady Raiders.

“To come in here on (MTSU’s) Senior Day, in their last home match, and do it with a conference championship on the line I think speaks to the character of these kids,” he said.

WKU put up big numbers in the five-set match.

Junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner led the team with 20 kills, while senior middle hitters Lindsay Williams and Tiffany Elmore added 15 and 11, respectively. The team’s kill total of 71 was the highest of the season for WKU.

Skinner also played a big role in the defense, recording a team-high 13 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Potts had 11 more to bring WKU’s match total up to 39 digs.

Sophomore setter Melanie Stutsman was a big contributor as well with 56 assists and five kills.

Skinner said the win, her first against MTSU, lived up to the Lady Toppers’ expectations.

“We knew they were going to be good,” she said. “We knew that both teams were going to play hard, and it’s just good for us to beat them because we knew we could if we played hard.”

The match on Friday was the last of the regular season for the Lady Toppers, who on Thursday go to Florida International for the Sun Belt tournament.

Elmore said tournament matches will feature the best competition WKU has seen this season.

“Going into the conference tournament, everyone’s going to have their best match that night,” she said. “We’re going to see everybody’s best and we have a lot of really good teams in the conference this year so I expect it to be really competitive.”