Lady Tops expect big crowds for first home matches at WKU Tournament

Lucas Aulbach

After having what Head Coach Travis Hudson called a “doggone good start” to the season, the WKU volleyball team is looking forward to performing in front of what they expect to be a big home crowd.

WKU went 6-1 in its first seven games, all on the road. Hudson said teams the Lady Toppers face this weekend are as good as any other teams they’ve taken on this year.

“The challenge this weekend is great, just as it was a week ago (in Lexington),” he said. “These are three high-quality teams that are good year in and year out, but we need to be playing teams of this caliber right now to continue to grow.”

The Lady Toppers will play Xavier and Wake Forest today at 12:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., then Louisiana State at 2:00 p.m. Saturday.

The Lady Toppers beat Xavier 3-1 last year in Cincinnati, but Hudson expects a closer match this year.

“Our match against Xavier last year was really competitive, so I expect them to be really good,” he said. “I think LSU is the most highly thought of group around the country of the three right now but certainly all three teams can beat us if we don’t play well.”

Admission to the games, which will be played at Diddle Arena, is free to WKU students and Saturday’s match against LSU is free for everyone. Hudson said he’s hoping for a good fan turnout.

He said he expects a big showing from “Hudson’s Hillraisers,” a student group that comes out and cheers at all the volleyball home games. The group gets free t-shirts and food before the games and are vocal during matches.

“You’ll know who they are — that’s for sure,” Hudson said. “Volleyball’s a game of energy, and I think it really gives us a big boost when the fans are here.”

Junior defensive specialist Sarah Rogers said that the Lady Toppers are excited to have the support of the home crowd after starting the year with seven matches on the road.

“It’ll be nice to actually be the ones with fans there cheering for us, instead of for the other team,” she said. “At Kentucky they had a big fan section on Friday night and I think just hearing our cheering section will help us a lot.”

Rogers said that a big student turnout inspires the team to perform better.

“Having everybody cheering on every point and being loud with you makes a huge difference,” she said. “It brings everybody’s game up.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Potts agreed, saying that the team should be motivated to perform well in front of a crowd of familiar faces.

“We’ve been on the road a lot but I think we’re all excited just to be back in Diddle and to see our home fans and friends,” she said.

Sophomore setter Melanie Stutsman said she’s expecting the student section to be big and loud.

“From what I hear we’re going to have a lot of fans here, which is exciting,” she said. “Hopefully they’ll get out there and do some heckling.”