VOLLEYBALL: Lady Tops second at Flyer Classic

Weekends are traditionally associated with rest, but it’s a tradition the Western volleyball team loves to break. The Lady Toppers (14-4) were on the road for the fourth-straight weekend, heading north to Ohio to compete in the Dayton Flyer Classic.

They came home runners-up in the event, falling to host Dayton in the championship match. But after losing freshman hitter Crystal Towler to a concussion on the first day, coach Travis Hudson wasn’t disappointed.

“It was such a difficult weekend that I feel good where we are going into conference play,” said Hudson.

Friday, the Lady Toppers defeated IUPUI in four games (31-33, 30-28, 30-26, 30-28). Sophomore middle hitter Amanda Schiff led the team with 13 kills, and fellow middle hitter Cynda Derbort added 12. Senior setter Sara Noe had 51 assists as the Lady Toppers prevailed despite a season-low .116 hitting percentage.

The first game was a fight. The score was tied 13 times before the Jaguars were able to capture the early advantage with a 33-31 win.

Western answered with close wins in the second and third games, but the Jaguars took a 17-15 lead midway through the fourth. After another back-and-forth battle, the Lady Toppers escaped 30-28 and got the win.

But they lost Towler in the process, as she bumped heads with a teammate during the match and suffered a concussion. She sat out both of Saturday’s matches.

Western returned to action against the Virginia Cavaliers of the Atlantic Coast Conference.?

It was another tight contest. The Lady Toppers won the first game but Virginia pulled even after beating Western 30-17 in the second.

Western pulled away in the third, sweeping the final two games, paced by sophomore outside hitter Amanda Cecil, who dominated the match with a career-high 21 kills. Noe added 50 assists.

“Amanda Cecil stepped her play up, and Tracy May was forced into a hitting role and played well,” Hudson said.

The win sent Western into the title game with Dayton, Western’s only opponent of the weekend with a winning record.

And the Flyers lived up to their 10-3 record, easily sending the Lady Toppers back to Bowling Green with a disappointing three-game loss (24-30, 20-30, 24-30).?

Cecil was the only Lady Topper to reach double digits in kills with 10. Dayton smoked Western with a .402 hitting percentage, meanwhile holding the Lady Toppers to .165.

“We learned a lot about ourselves,” Noe said. “We had injuries, so we didn’t play to the best of our abilities.”

Despite the loss, Cecil and Schiff represented Western on the all-tournament team.

The Lady Toppers will return to action tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Middle Tennessee as they begin the defense of their Sun Belt East Division Championship.

“We are all ready to get into conference play,” Hudson said, “because that leads us to where we really want to go.”

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected]