Lady Toppers start looking ahead to last games

Emily Patton

After adding two more Sun Belt Conference wins last weekend, Head Coach Travis Hudson said he can’t help but feel pretty good about the matches that remain.

WKU (19-5, 8-1 Sun Belt Conference) won on the road against Florida Atlantic and defending Sun Belt champion Florida International for the second time this season. Both wins marked season sweeps for the Lady Toppers over their respective opponents.

WKU has now won 11 of its 12 matches, including four straight conference games.

“What we’ve done is put ourselves in a position where we control our own destiny from here on out,” Hudson said. “If we take care of business in our next games, that conference championship is within reach.”

By winning against FIU, the Lady Toppers beat the only team that has been able to give Middle Tennessee a conference loss this year. Middle Tennessee remains the only team to hand the Lady Toppers a Sun Belt loss.

It’s this scenario that has Hudson and the team re-examining a loss to the Blue Raiders two weeks ago.

“I don’t want to say that game was a fluke,” Hudson said. “Middle Tennessee played us very well that night. They beat us soundly, but we are very excited to get another chance to play them. We feel like we can play with anyone now.”

The Lady Toppers will get that chance with seven conference games remaining, including a Nov. 12 match against Middle Tennessee in Diddle Arena.

Junior middle hitter Tiffany Elmore, who had a season-high 18 kills against FIU, said the Lady Toppers are in a situation where they know they can beat anyone.

“We can put our foot down when someone punches us in the face a little bit,” Elmore said. “We can compete when we need to. It also helps us that we can do that against anyone. Every game, it just proves that even more to us.”

But Elmore and sophomore libero Sarah Rogers said the best preparation for the last leg of the Sun Belt play is their mid-week matchup against non-conference opponent No. 21 Cincinnati.

“That is going to be a great match,” Rogers said. “You have nothing to lose. To me, those are some of the best matches. We will be at home with a great crowd. If we can get that win, it will be so good for us going forward.”

Rogers said the Cincinnati match will help define the type of season the Lady Toppers have had — one her coach said at the beginning of the year would be difficult to be above .500.

“You know, 19-5 feels amazing,” Rogers said. “But if we can get that 20th win, it is going to feel even better.”