WKU volleyball bounces back with win against No. 27 Missouri

The Lady Toppers rally around senior Emily Teegarden on Friday. WKU split two matches, losing to Virginia Tech in five sets before knocking off then-undefeated Missouri in four.

Emily Patton

Sometimes all a player needs for a turnaround is a little pep talk.

Head Coach Travis Hudson gave his senior outside hitter, Emily Teegarden, just that after WKU rallied from two sets down but surrendered the fifth to Virginia Tech Friday afternoon in Diddle Arena.

Hudson’s speech was delivered only a few hours before the Lady Toppers returned to play the undefeated and No. 27 Missouri volleyball team on the same floor. It was then that Teegarden made her turnaround and helped lead WKU (6-3) past the Lady Tigers (7-1) with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 19-25, 25-17) win.

“Travis believes in whatever I do,” Teegarden said. “I played like crap versus Virginia Tech and last weekend, and he said, ‘Emily, if you don’t think I believe in you, I would’ve taken you out. But I know that any moment you are going to flip the switch and turn it on.’”

Teegarden found that switch against Missouri when she finished the match with 14 kills, two digs and a .296 hitting percentage.

In the previous match against Virginia Tech, Teegarden only managed a .083 hitting percentage.

As the two sat in Hudson’s office between matches, Teegarden said she began to relax and come in with a new mindset.

“What me and Travis talked about is what I can do to help out,” Teegarden said. “He gave me confidence. We hugged it out, and he had my back.”

The meeting was not to yell or scold, Hudson said. Instead it was to simply remind the senior from Brentwood, Tenn., what she needs to do.

“She has just been pressing too much as a senior,” Hudson said.  “She was playing very, very poorly against Virginia Tech, but I stuck with her to the end because I know that kid can play.”

Teegarden started the Lady Toppers off with a kill to begin the first set against Missouri and then extended a four-point lead over the Lady Tigers in the second set.

It was those key moments that junior middle hitter Tiffany Elmore said gave the team the extra fire it needed to carry out the win.

Both Elmore and Teegarden tied in kills against Missouri with 14 a iece.

When WKU plays Tennessee Tech at 1 p.m. and Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. Saturday in Diddle, Elmore said there will be no need to “bounce back” like the Lady Toppers had to on Friday.

“As long as we come out and play like we did tonight and do the little things,” Elmore said, “I don’t have a worry.”