WKU wins twice Saturday, sweeps Belmont Invitational

WKU senior Lindsay Williams reaches for a block Saturday against Belmount Bruins sophomore Jen Myer in the third set of the teams’ match at the Curb Event Center in Nashville. The Lady Toppers ran their record to 3-0 on the season with a pair of wins, the other against Murray State.

Brad Stephens

NASHVILLE — With 10 of his team’s next 11 opponents ranked in the Top 80 a year ago, WKU Head Coach Travis Hudson said he knew notching a 3-0 record in this weekend’s Belmont Invitational was critical.

One day after sweeping Sacramento State in their season opener, the Lady Tops defeated both Belmont and Murray State Saturday to clinch a perfect start to the season.

“It was a really good weekend for our team in terms of moving forward,” Hudson said. “This early in the year, my teams aren’t traditionally this good.

“We were far from perfect this weekend but we did a lot of really nice things and we had a lot of kids contribute, which is good to see.”

Early against Murray State in the nightcap, the Lady Tops were off to a slow start, so Hudson called his team over for a timeout.

Senior middle hitter Tiffany Elmore said Hudson’s message was that the team needed to raise its enthusiasm.

“We got away from being energetic and competitive,” Elmore said. “But we came back out with a competitive response.”

WKU found a way to win the first set, 25-22, and then routed the Racers 25-14 in the second before finishing them off 25-19 in the third.

Elmore was efficient for the Lady Tops, achieving a .625 attacking percentage with five kills and two blocks.

Senior middle hitter Lindsay Williams and junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner both pitched in with 10 kills, while sophomore setter Melanie Stutsman accumulated 34 assists.

Hudson said he was also impressed with the effort of freshman Heather Boyan, a Munster, Ind., native who had three kills while seeing time in two sets.

“Heather Boyan could start a lot of places in the country right now but she’s behind two senior (middle hitters),” Hudson said. “When she got her opportunity, she came out and did some exciting things.”

In the first game Saturday, WKU dropped the opening set, 25-17, to Belmont, but rallied by winning the next three sets by scores of 25-16, 25-19 and 25-14 to defeat the Bruins.

The Lady Toppers were led offensively by sophomore outside hitter Paige Wessel and Williams, who both tallied 14 kills.

Both also had an attacking percentage of at least .500.

“One of things that really makes us good offensively is that we have so many weapons,” Hudson said. “Belmont really wanted to try to take away Tiffany and Lindsay Williams in the middle, which really opened things up for Paige, and she responded in a big way.”

Stutsman contributed 46 assists, while sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Potts scored 25 digs defensively.

The 3-0 weekend gives WKU momentum going into the Kentucky Classic, held next weekend in Lexington.

In that tournament, the Lady Tops will face Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Ohio.

Williams said she isn’t worried about a WKU letdown next weekend.

“Our schedule is going to get harder and harder,” she said. “We need to keep pushing and be fearless in what we’re doing.”