VOLLEYBALL: Lady Tops crowned East champs

Amber North

It didn’t take long for confetti to fill Diddle Arena Saturday evening after the Lady Toppers defeated Arkansas State.

The players gleefully walked off the court and bounced their way into the locker room. A speechless coach Travis Hudson wore a grin so big it could have illuminated Mammoth Cave.

It meant only one thing. The Lady Toppers were crowned Sun Belt East champions for the fourth consecutive time.

“This never gets old for me,” Hudson said. “No one in this program knows anything other than winning.”

The Lady Toppers defeated Arkansas-Little Rock on Friday in three games (30-26, 30-21, 30-23) before knocking off ASU in three Saturday (30-23, 30-28, 30-18).

“Being able to secure the title on our home court, especially winning in three in both matches, is a great accomplishment,” senior middle hitter Cynda Derbort said.

Derbort and Tracy May, the team’s only seniors, have been spoiled by being on championship teams each of their years at Western.

“It’s awesome that we’re the first class to win four in a row,” May said. “I’m excited and enjoying this but we have to get ready for conference. We’re not done yet.”

By sweeping the two Arkansas teams, the Lady Toppers extended their winning streak to seven matches.

Little Rock (16-10, 7-5 Sun Belt) stepped into Diddle Arena Friday with a talent-laden lineup. Although the team consisted of mostly freshmen and sophomores, they still brought a strong force from their side of the net, with two players posting 11 kills.

Western (24-6, 10-2) then prepared to put its next opponent in the bag Saturday when it faced the Lady Indians (19-10, 7-6).

The Lady Toppers’ stifling defense held ASU to a miniscule .012 hitting percentage for the match.

Sophomore outside hitter Crystal Towler recorded her second double-double of the season with 11 kills and 12 digs.

“(Last weekend) was absolutely unbelievable defensively, and it certainly carried us,” Hudson said.

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