VOLLEYBALL: Tourney title in bag, streak now at five

Amber North

It didn’t look too pretty when the volleyball team started off with a goose egg in the win column in its first two matches.

Now, those two losses are afterthoughts.

The Lady Toppers spent their weekend in Kent, Ohio, defeating three teams at the Kent State Invitational. Western came back to Bowling Green as tournament champions, winning their last five matches.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” coach Travis Hudson said. “As I told them, going 1-2 in the opening weekend didn’t make us a bad team, and going 3-0 last weekend didn’t make us a great team, but somewhere in between.”

Western played Friday’s only match when they faced Georgia. In the first game, Western escaped the Lady Bulldogs 30-27.

In the second game, the Lady Toppers could not overcome their mistakes.

Twenty-nine service errors allowed Georgia to score four straight points.

“Having [that many] errors was beyond bad,” Hudson said. “The match would have ended sooner if we had taken care of the ball better.”

The Lady Bulldogs won the game 31-29 and won the third match as well, 30-27.

Western won games four and five against Georgia to take the match.

“I feel very fortunate to have gotten the win,” Hudson said. “It was very good win for the program.”

Erasing their sloppy performance from the night before, the Lady Toppers won their match against host Kent State on Saturday 3-0 (30-23, 30-28, 30-23).

The team’s hitting as a whole was in sync as it hit .381 for the match, a season high.

“It was the first match all year that I feel we had any rhythm,” Hudson said.

Sophomore Crystal Towler and junior Amanda Cecil collected 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

Blotch had a versatile match, recording seven kills, eight digs and 34 assists.

“The difference between the team we were on Saturday was Blotch,” Hudson said. “She really played well and was responsible for finding the rhythm we’ve been lacking.”

Later that night, Western played Morehead State for the championship. It took the Lady Toppers four games to win the match 30-18, 33-35, 30-26, 30-19. The win gave Western the Kent State Invitational title.

Blotch was named the tournament most valuable player, totaling 141 assists and 26 kills.

“It’s the best I’ve felt playing since high school,” Blotch said. “Winning MVP is nice to have, but it’s not just for me. I could not have done it alone – the passers passed great and the hitters hit the ball to give me the assist.”

Towler was named to the all-tournament team, totaling 40 kills.

“I was really surprised, because a lot of girls on the team did really well,” Towler said. “It was a real tough decision (to pick a player) off our team. I am surprised but still happy.”

Senior libero Tracy May and Blotch both earned Sun Belt accolades this week. May, last season’s conference Defensive Player of the Year, earned her fourth career Defensive Player of the Week.

Blotch was named Player of the Week, her first Sun Belt honor.

The Lady Toppers will try to contain their energy tonight when they travel to Cookeville, Tenn., to play Tennessee Tech at 7 p.m.

Reach Amber North at [email protected]