Lady Toppers still looking to improve as season winds down

The Lady Toppers celebrate the winning point in their 3-0 sweep against Louisiana-Monroe Saturday in Diddle Arena. WKU has won its last six Sun Belt Conference matches.

Emily Patton

The last thing a team wants to hear as it enters the final stretch of the season is that there is still room for improvement.

But to junior middle hitter Lindsay Williams, the fact that WKU still has work left to do speaks volumes.

The Lady Toppers (21-6, 10-1 Sun Belt Conference) recently won their 20th match of the season and remain 4-0 in conference play in Diddle Arena.

“The sky is the limit right now for the team,” Williams said. “We are to the point in our season where we have all the puzzle pieces. We know what to do and how to do it; we just have to do it.”

Improving focus and accountability on the court are things Williams said are top priorities right now — elements that were absent in WKU’s loss to Middle Tennessee on Oct. 6.

The Blue Raiders handed WKU its first and only conference loss of the season by sweeping the match in three sets in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

In the first set, the Lady Toppers fell behind 9-1 early, posting attack and service errors that allowed MTSU to pull away uncontested.

Throughout the next two sets, WKU attempted a comeback, but each time the Lady Toppers got a run going, errors soon followed.

“I think the reason why teams have scored points on us or have beaten us is because of our mistakes,” Williams said. “Whether it was a hitting error or blocking error, it was our errors that gave them the majority of their points.

“As discouraging as that sounds, it has made our team excited. We know if we don’t make those mistakes, we can crush them.”

Senior defensive specialist Kelly Potts said that when the match concluded, Head Coach Travis Hudson broke down every play, explaining which points had been earned and which were lost because of WKU mistakes.

“It was just sickening how many points we just gave away,” Potts said. “When you look at (the errors), they are not intricate parts of the game; they are things we learned on day one of preseason. If we would have done the basic things, that game would have been completely different.”

So it’s no wonder that Potts and Williams are salivating over the rematch against Middle Tennessee scheduled for Nov. 12 in Diddle Arena, the week before Sun Belt tournament play begins.

“We want to have this knowledge that it wasn’t them that beat us,” Williams said. “It was us that beat us the first time.”

With MTSU and WKU tied for first in Sun Belt standings, the match could very well decide the division champion.

The last time the Lady Toppers were named Sun Belt East Division champions was in 2008, when they shared the honor with Middle Tennessee.

While the reality of earning that division title is steadily getting closer, Hudson emphasized the importance of every match, including those this weekend against Denver and North Texas.

If WKU does not return with wins against Denver (13-14, 7-5 Sun Belt) and North Texas (17-9, 9-2 Sun Belt), these division championships could simply evaporate.

“I’m that guy in preseason who put WKU first in the league,” Hudson said. “I thought we had a team capable of challenging for a championship, and with five matches to go, we are certainly in that situation.”