Lady Toppers pass first-game test

Emily Patton

Head Coach Travis Hudson said WKU left something very crucial behind on its road trip last weekend.

Each of the five times the Lady Toppers have lost the first game of a match this season, they have gone on to lose the match as well.

The statistic had manifested into what Hudson called “a gorilla on our backs.”

But when North Texas took the first game against WKU on Sunday, Hudson and the team decided that enough was enough.

WKU (23-6, 12-1 Sun Belt Conference) forced the Mean Green to a four-game battle and went on to win 1-3 (26-28, 25-13, 25-14, 25-21) in Denton, Texas.

“It was really disappointing to lose that first set,” Hudson said. “There was a bad call on a ball that was out of bounds that led to North Texas taking it. But very quickly, I told the team that this is our chance to get that monkey off our back and prove we can win when we’ve been knocked down.”

Knocked down is exactly where the Lady Toppers found themselves after winning a three-game match against Denver on the road just days before.

“In Denver, things kind of spiraled out of control,” junior middle hitter Lindsay Williams said. “Although we still got the win, it just didn’t feel right.”

Williams said the odds were stacked up against WKU because of a strenuous weekend of playing road matches and catching flights.

And it appeared the streak would stay intact, until Williams said the team came to the decision that it was going to win the match.

“North Texas came out strong and were ready to go,” she said. “We kind of got a little shaken. Even though we lost that first set, it kind of gave us momentum to end the streak by coming back and beating them.”

The Lady Toppers went on to finish with 13 more kills than the Mean Green over the next three games.

“Although we don’t like to lose any games purposely, we wanted to know that if we were ever put in that situation where we were down, we would be able to win,” Williams said.

It was a test that the Lady Toppers passed less than three weeks away from the Sun Belt tournament on Nov. 18.

But senior outside hitter Emily Teegarden said the come-from-behind win came exactly when it needed to and ended the weekend on a high point.

“It worked out well,” Teegarden said. “It was another one of those things that we just had to get past, and now we’ll move onto the next thing as we’ve done all season.”

With the last road games behind the Lady Toppers, WKU is now 11-2 on the road this season and will travel much lighter.

“It is like that giant monkey on our back is gone now,” Teegarden said. “Travis was so happy and kept saying, ‘We are leaving King Kong in North Texas.’”