WKU volleyball’s success evident to former players

Lucas Aulbach

The WKU volleyball team is having one of its best seasons ever, but the success of the team hasn’t surprised everyone.

Kelly Potts, who played for WKU for four years before graduating last year, said the pieces for a successful team were already in place.

“They had it all there,” she said. “They couldn’t have asked for a better group to return from last year.”

WKU (21-3, 8-1 Sun Belt Conference) is ranked No. 32 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll and No. 23 in the RPI poll. The Lady Toppers have the best overall record in the conference and are second in their division behind Middle Tennessee, the only Sun Belt team to which WKU has lost.

Potts, the older sister of WKU sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Potts, said she’s seen the Lady Toppers improve most in defense in the nine or ten matches she’s seen this season.

Senior middle hitter Tiffany Elmore agreed, saying the Lady Toppers’ defense has made big strides over the course of the season.

“We’ve been really focused a lot on getting stops and holding our opponents to a low hitting percentage this year,” she said. “That’s been a huge factor and its just shown over and over again.” 

Elmore has played at WKU for four years now and ranks this year’s team as good as any on which she’s played.

“This is definitely one of the top teams we’ve had since I’ve been here,” she said. “My freshman year we were really good. We won conference and went to the NCAA tournament, but I feel like we have so many different components to the team this year. It’s one of the best.”

Emily Teegarden, who played for WKU with Potts for four years before becoming a student assistant this season, said she can see the Lady Toppers improve defensively by watching them at practice.

“In four-on-four in practice, the games go so much longer because no one can get a kill when the other team just keeps getting digs,” she said. “It’s nuts how good they are defensively.”

Teegarden has been able to see the team grow all season. Though she’s used her four years of athletic eligibility, she comes to all of the games and helps out at most practices.

Head Coach Travis Hudson said proof of WKU’s improvement is in their statistics. He compared his team’s five-set loss on Tuesday night to Cincinnati to the way they performed against them last season.

“Cincinnati is a team that hit over .400 last year in the NCAA tournament and hit a .170 on their home court last night,” he said.

WKU will try to bounce back from its road loss on Tuesday this weekend with matches against Louisiana-Monroe tonight at 7 p.m. and Louisiana-Lafayette tomorrow at 6 p.m.

The Lady Toppers have to get there first, though. It’s a 10 to 11 hour bus ride from Bowling Green to Louisiana. Despite the length, Hudson said he thinks the trip will bring his team closer together.

“We’re looking forward to the time spent together without distractions of life that pull us away from each other,” he said. “We’re going to try to really use it as time to grow as a team.”