Forward thinking: Loss to MTSU turns WKU’s attention to tournament

Sophomore defensive specialist Sarah Rogers digs for the ball to keep it in play during WKU’s game against MTSU on Friday. WKU lost the match 3-0.

Emily Patton

Senior Kelly Potts was on the court when Middle Tennessee scored the final point to win in three games on Friday and secured a Sun Belt Conference regular-season title for the Blue Raiders.

As Potts joined her teammates to thank the fans after the match, the defensive specialist said it was a confusing moment.

WKU’s dreams of a Senior Night victory and regular-season championship collapsed simultaneously with the 3-0 (21-25, 22-25, 19-25) loss at home.

“I don’t know what happened,” Potts said. “Honestly the third game didn’t even feel like the third game. We are that team that at any point, we can come back. With this team, you never know when it is going to be over. I still believed.”

Just as Potts expected the Lady Toppers (25-7, 14-2 Sun Belt Conference) to turn the game around any moment, she thinks WKU will make its comeback in the Sun Belt tournament beginning Thursday.

“This isn’t over for us,” Potts said. “I just want to go and get revenge on whoever is on the other side of the net. Whoever we play along the way, I feel sorry for them.”

By ruining WKU’s Senior Night, MTSU (25-5, 15-1 Sun Belt) claimed the top seed in the tournament, while WKU took the second.

The Lady Toppers will meet seventh-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette, who they swept on Oct. 22, in a match in Murfreesboro, Tenn. MTSU will face eighth-seeded South Alabama.

If both teams take care of their opponents in the first two days of the tournament, they’ll meet on Saturday for the championship match.

MSTU remains the only team the Lady Toppers have lost to in Sun Belt play. The first match, WKU was swept in Murfreesboro on Oct. 6.

WKU was limited to a .163 hitting percentage and committed 23 attack errors on Friday.

But sophomore outside hitter Jordyn Skinner, who led the offense with nine kills during the match, said the story would be written differently if the teams were to meet again.

“It is hard to beat a team three times,” Skinner said. “We are more than ready to play them again. If we could, we would play them again tomorrow. I think next weekend will be big for us.”

Though the focus the last two weeks had been the rematch with MTSU, Head Coach Travis Hudson said it’s now time to look forward to the tournament.

“We pick our pieces up, we go back, and we take another swing,” Hudson said. “This is not the time of the year to sit around and mope and be disappointed.”

Hudson emphasized the fact that WKU never played poorly. He said the Blue Raiders just played that well.

“Losing this match doesn’t make us a bad team by any stretch,” Hudson said. “We just need to lick our wounds a bit and come back and build toward winning a championship next week.”