VOLLEYBALL: Lady Tops get sloppy win on the road

Michael Casagrande

It wasn’t pretty, but Western escaped from Clarksville, Tenn., Tuesday night with a win against Austin Peay in its last non-conference match of the season.

The Lady Toppers swept the Lady Govs (9-16) in three games. But it wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3. Western (25-4, 9-0 SBC) struggled, winning the three games by a narrow margin (31-29, 30-25, 30-26).

Coach Travis Hudson was less than pleased with the play of his typically dominating squad.

“We played terrible,” Hudson said. “To be perfectly honest, we did not react like a championship team tonight. That is very disappointing.”

Usually outspoken, the coach was at a loss of words when it came to a reason for his team’s poor performance.

“I don’t really care what the reason was,” Hudson said.

Sophomore middle hitter Amanda Schiff led Western with 15 kills and a .517 hitting percentage. Freshman outside hitter Crystal Towler was the only other Lady Topper in double figures, posting 13 kills.

Defensively, Western had eight team blocks and held Austin Peay to a lowly .130 hitting percentage.

But it was the Lady Govs’ defense that frustrated Western all night.

“As a hitter, I know I was getting frustrated,” Schiff said. “They played incredible defense. They were getting every ball.”

The Lady Govs gave Western a fight with the shortest of benches. Only six players saw action Tuesday night for Austin Peay.

Julie Burkhalter and Sarah Schramka led the balanced attack from the out-manned Lady Govs by posting 10 kills apiece.

The Lady Toppers return to Sun Belt play and the friendly confines of the Preston Health and Activities Center Friday against bitter rival Florida International.

Schiff is looking forward to another battle with the team that ended Western’s season prematurely a year ago. Western won at FIU earlier this season.

“For me personally, it’s a real big match because when we went down there, we didn’t play all that well,” Schiff said. “They are barely into the tournament right now, and I think if we beat them, then it’s just going to put them that much farther out of the range for the tournament.”

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected]