WKU volleyball sweeps South Alabama to start new streak

Sophomore outside hitter Paige Wessel helped the Lady Toppers come back from set point on Saturday to claim the first set for themselves against South Alabama on WKU’s way to a 3-0 sweep of the Lady Jaguars.

Brad Stephens

Just days after seeing its winning streak snapped, WKU has started another run.

The Lady Toppers, whose 14-game streak ended Tuesday against Middle Tennessee State, completed a weekend sweep Saturday with a win over South Alabama.

WKU swept the Lady Jaguars 3-0 (27-25, 25-15, 25-16) Saturday in Diddle Arena.

It was the second straight win for the Lady Toppers (19-2, 6-1 Sun Belt Conference) who also swept Troy Friday.

Head Coach Travis Hudson said WKU “played in spurts” on Saturday.

“I didn’t think we had great focus throughout the night,” Hudson said. “We gave away a lot of points that we don’t need to be giving away at this point in the season. But ultimately we did what we needed to do to get the win.”

The Lady Toppers, who have now beaten the Lady Jaguars in 23 consecutive matches, seemed to be cruising early in the first set.

But South Alabama stormed back after taking two timeouts and reached set point twice.

On the Lady Jaguars’ first set point, at 24-23, senior middle hitter Tiffany Elmore rose for a kill, one of her team-high 12.

Then after a Lady Topper net violation gave South Alabama another chance to take the first set, senior hitter Lindsay Williams came up with a clutch kill to tie things at 25.

Williams followed with another to give WKU a 26-25 lead.

Sophomore outside hitter Paige Wessel then finished the Lady Jaguars off with one of her six kills.

Hudson, who saved his timeouts during South Alabama’s rally, said he hoped the first set would serve as a teaching point for his players.

“We made some plays right there at the end to win it, but then again we should never be in that position,” Hudson said. “These kids have got to learn that lesson or it’s going to end up costing us.”

Sophomore setter Melanie Stutsman said WKU’s ability to come back from two Lady Jaguar set points showed the team’s determination.

“We have this attitude that no matter what, we’re always going to keep coming at you,” said Stutsman, who tallied 33 assists Saturday. “But obviously we should’ve never been in that situation in the first place.”

From there, the Lady Toppers dominated South Alabama behind a strong performance from Elmore.

The North Vernon, Ind., native dominated the net, posting a .474 attacking percentage and two blocks to go along with her 12 kills.

“I knew tonight when I set her that she was going to get a kill,” Stutsman said. “I could tell that she wanted the ball, and that’s always great for a setter to know a hitter has no fear.”

Hudson agreed, saying Elmore put in a “timely” performance.

“That was one of the better matches she’s played all season,” Hudson said. “We didn’t play really well overall, but Tiff’s a hard working kid and she deserves to play well.”

WKU now has a week of practice ahead before taking on Florida International at 6 p.m. Friday.

Hudson said he’d like to see the Lady Toppers improve “little things” before facing FIU.

“A lot of people don’t want to hear that when you’re 19-2,” he said. “But trust me — from sitting on the sidelines we’ve got a lot of work to do.”