VOLLEYBALL: Lady Tops need two to clinch

Amber North

Two matches are all it takes.

If the Lady Toppers win two more matches, they will clinch their fourth regular season Sun Belt East title.

After Arkansas State lost to Arkansas-Little Rock last Friday, Western replaced the Lady Indians as the No. 1 team in the East standings.

Once again, the Lady Toppers are targets to other opponents in the conference.

“Everyone will want to come after us, but now we have to brave the opportunity,” junior Amanda Cecil said. “It’s not often when we have the chance to win on our own court.”

Western will be challenged this weekend when it plays Little Rock (17-9, 7-4 Sun Belt Conference) on Friday and ASU (19-8, 7-4 SBC) on Saturday in Diddle Arena.

The Trojans, who are third in the East, beat Western in four games Oct. 3.

“They’re a big blocking team, so I’m going to try to focus on covering the blocks better,” senior libero Tracy May said.

On Oct. 3, the Lady Toppers lost their first conference match to ASU, who also snapped Western’s 24-match conference win streak.

But it’s one month removed from that match, and Western is ready to avenge the loss.

“We have to play better than we did that match to slow down Arkansas State,” coach Travis Hudson said. “I feel like we’re much better than a month ago – them beating us grabbed our attention a little.”

The balance between Western’s offense and defense has also been key for Western.

“We’re playing really well and worked out the kinks that we had earlier in the season,” Cecil said. “Caron (Blotch) has run the offense smoothly and the defense picks up where the offense is leading.”

The Lady Toppers (22-6, 8-2) have just four more matches until they host the SBC tournament on Nov. 20. And clinching the division will give them a big boost for the tourney.

Although the future paints a pretty picture for the Lady Toppers right now, they are primarily concentrating on this weekend.

“We want to take one opportunity at a time,” Hudson said. “We want to win the regular season championship first, then roll from there and think about conference.”

Reach Amber North at [email protected]