Lady Toppers’ 9-1 start gaining national attention

WKU players celebrate their 3-1 victory over LSU at the WKU Tournament in Diddle Arena on Saturday. Undefeated in the tournament, WKU improves their record to 9-1 for the season.

Lucas Aulbach

The Lady Toppers are off to a blistering 9-1 start this season, but Head Coach Travis Hudson isn’t surprised one bit.

“We said at the beginning of the year that this is a team that could compete with some of the best teams nationally,” Hudson said. “So far they’ve done just that.”

WKU has done far more than just compete with most of the teams they’ve played. 

The Lady Toppers went 3-0 in their first home matches last weekend at the WKU Tournament with wins over Xavier, Wake Forest and Louisiana State.

That was preceded by wins over Ohio, Virginia Tech and Belmont.

Hudson said the success the Lady Toppers have had against such quality teams has been especially impressive to him.

 “We’re in a stretch in our schedule where out of an 11-match stretch, 10 of them are teams that finished in the top 80 last year,” he said. “So we’re putting ourselves out there — putting ourselves in a position where we can get an at-large bid again. And boy, we’re picking up some quality wins along the way.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Potts said the team, which Hudson has consistently called “special,” is doing well because the players simply believe in one another.
“We’re all confident in each other so we know if we’re going to set someone, they’re going to put it down,” she said. “We know the back row’s going to dig it if we need it. We probably could have been a little more aggressive in serving this weekend, but I thought we played great.”
Hudson credited the Lady Toppers’ poise as a big factor in their success thus far.
“Obviously the talent helps and experience helps, but this is a team that just has not gotten shook all year,” he said. “We don’t get shaken very easily.”
In the NCAA top 25 poll  last Monday, the Lady Toppers received four votes, putting them in the top 40 even before their 3-0 weekend. They’ll likely crack the top 25 this week.
WKU was picked along with Middle Tennessee to finish first in the East Division in the Sun Belt preseason poll. 
While conference play has yet to start, the Lady Toppers have the best record of all the Sun Belt teams.
The Lady Toppers’ start has put them toward the top of the conference in several statistical categories as well, including first in kills and assists.
WKU has benefited from the emergence of junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner, who currently leads the Sun Belt in kills. Her 30 kills against Xavier on Friday rank as second most in a match in WKU history.
Even with her stellar play offensively, she credits WKU’s improved defense as a big reason the team has performed so well.
“We’ve been trying to work on that ever since the preseason,” Skinner said. “So we’re still doing that — being consistent, and having fun.”
Hudson said the strong start is helping WKU gain a national following.
“We were getting votes in the preseason polls, but a start like this does more to help us really gain a national presence,” he said.
He added that he hopes the good start extends to Tuesday’s home match against Tennessee State.
Tonight’s game marks the third consecutive year the Lady Toppers have played Tennessee State, beating them 3-0 in both of the previous matches.
“They’re a team we’ve been able to handle in the past, but every year’s different and every team’s different,” Hudson said.