Try some WKU volleyball; you’ll like it

Jonathan Lintner

Volleyball coach Travis Hudson is asking one thing of the masses of WKU students who have never funneled into Diddle Arena for volleyball the way they do to see men’s and women’s basketball.

Come and watch the volleyball team just once.

Try it, Hudson said, because you’ll probably like it.

“I think if they come one time, they’re going to be shocked at the environment and how fun it is,” he said. “We understand that we’re not going to just walk in one day and have 5,000 people in Diddle Arena. We’re trying to pick them up one, two, three, ten at a time.”

Sort of the same way as the Lady Toppers are picking off opponents this season. After sweeping its first two Sun Belt Conference opponents last weekend, WKU is one of three teams left undefeated in conference. One of the others, defending Sun Belt champion Florida International, comes to Diddle Arena this Saturday.

This season’s start is a really big deal for a bunch of Lady Toppers who broke into the RPKI rankings at No. 36 this week. That’s called national attention, folks — something we haven’t seen from basketball or football (ESPN’s Bottom 10 notwithstanding) in more than a year.

But it seems like every time a team that’s not the men’s basketball team begins to excel, it takes a push for fans to get out to games.

The WKU baseball team knows the feeling. It earned plenty of recognition while cracking the top 25 during non-conference play, but attendance wasn’t anything to write home about. Then came the now-famous “Rain Delay Theatre” video to kick off conference play, and the Toppers’ season went down the tubes.

Hudson, who’s in his 15th season as WKU head coach, said he’s well aware of what happened to the baseball team — so aware that it came up in his Wednesday morning staff meeting.

Like the baseball team, the volleyball team is young, which Hudson warned can lead to a collapse if his team isn’t careful.

“We’re very pleased with where we are right now, but we also realize what a fine line it is that we walk,” Hudson said. “We’re not so crazy-talented and experienced that we can just walk out there and beat people.”

But WKU, which sits at 13-4 entering the weekend, has beaten just about everyone and holds a 4-1 record in Diddle.

More fan support won’t hurt the Lady Toppers’ record for sure, as Hudson credited the student section created in his name for energy at home.

Free food? Free shirt? Front-row seat? Any student can have it at every home game as part of “Hudson’s Hillraisers.” And those that don’t want to take part will keep missing out on what, quite frankly, is the best team on WKU’s campus right now.

And as Hudson says, WKU volleyball will remain a “well-kept secret.”

“When we do get people to come in the doors and watch our team play, they’re always blown away by the excitement, the athleticism and the level of play that’s going on,” Hudson said. “So many people don’t think they know about volleyball, but when you come in and watch, you get it pretty quick.”