WKU goes to D.C. for final tourney before SBC play

The 31st-ranked Lady Toppers will face Missouri, American University and Villanova this weekend at the American University Tournament in Washington, D.C., where they hope to improve their chances at receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Lucas Aulbach

Sophomore outside hitter Janee’ Diggins said the Lady Toppers will get to do some sightseeing in the nation’s capitol this weekend while at the American University Tournament. 

But first, Head Coach Travis Hudson said WKU needs to take care of business.

“Going up there to D.C. and getting a couple more quality wins would be a really nice finish to this non-conference portion,” he said. “It gives us three more chances to continue to enhance our resume and more importantly get ourselves playing well going into conference play.”

The No. 31 Lady Toppers (10-1) will face No. 32 Missouri — a team WKU beat last season — at 3:30 p.m. CST Friday in their first match. Even with the recent success WKU has had against Missouri, Hudson said he knows not to take them lightly.

“Missouri was a Sweet 16 team last year,” he said. “They’re extremely athletic and we will certainly have our hands full in that match.”

WKU will finish the tournament Saturday against American University and Villanova.

Diggins said the D.C. tournament will be important to set the tone for the team’s upcoming Sun Belt Conference schedule, which begins on Sept. 23 against UALR.

“Missouri and Villanova are supposed to be really good teams,” she said. “I feel like if we beat them, we’ll go into conference play with a lot of confidence.”

Even with a 10-1 record and a No. 31 national ranking, Hudson said this weekend will be important for the Lady Toppers’ case for a potential at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament later this season

“What we’ve done to this point is give ourselves opportunity,” he said. “Through 11 matches, we’ve given ourselves opportunity to really put ourselves in a good place in terms of at-large consideration if we play this thing out.”

Junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner agreed, saying the Lady Toppers are focusing on winning now to help put themselves in good position at the end of the season.

“We’re just trying to go out there every game and do our best to win,” she said. “If we do well at the tournament this weekend, I think we’ll be in a good spot to get an at large bid.”

WKU will have one more non-conference match this season to boost their résumé — an October 18th bout on the road against Cincinnati. 

Hudson said doing well in Washington would be important for WKU’s national standing, and like Diggins said, it’s momentum coming into Sun Belt play.