Hilltoppers earn pair of sweeps in first day of Golden Dome Invitational

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Credit: Fighting Irish Media

WKU middle hitter Lauren Matthews (5) celebrates with her teammates during WKU’s victory over Notre Dame on Aug. 27, 2021. Matthews reached the 1,000 kills milestone during the match.

Cassady Lamb, Volleyball reporter

The No. 16 Hilltoppers (2-0, 0-0 C-USA) took on Oakland University (0-2, 0-0 Horizon) and No. 25 Notre Dame (0-1, 0-0 ACC) on Friday at the Golden Dome Invitational in South Bend, Indiana, sweeping both teams 3-0. 

“[I am] just really, really proud of our kids,” head coach Travis Hudson shared after the win against the Fighting Irish. 

Senior middle hitter Lauren Matthews finished the match against Oakland with 15 kills and contributed 10 more against Notre Dame with 10 kills.  Matthews reached the milestone of 1,000 total kills as a Hilltopper with the 21st point of the third set against the Irish.

Junior outside hitter Paige Briggs finished the match against Oakland with 10 kills, and put up another 13 against Notre Dame. Fifth-year setter Nadia Dieudonne tallied 38 assists in the match against Oakland and 36 against Notre Dame. 

WKU vs Oakland

Set 1 

Oakland was the first to score in set one and kept the lead in the early stages of the set. 

Junior outside hitter Avri Davis scored WKU’s first point of the regular season. The Lady Toppers took their first lead of the set 7-6 following a kill from fifth-year right side Kayland Jackson. 

The Lady Toppers were able to pull in set one  25-20. 

Set 2 

Oakland again was able to pull in the first point of the set. Despite this, the Hilltoppers took a four-point lead 11-7, which would result in a Golden Grizzlies timeout. 

The end of the set stayed tight, with Oakland catching up and achieving a 22-21 lead.

The Lady Toppers went on a 4-1 scoring run to close out the set, finishing with a 25-23 victory.

Set 3 

WKU was able to get the first point of set three, and from there went on a 5-0 scoring run.

Once the score reached 11-3, the Grizzlies used another timeout. WKU was then able to take a double-digit lead over Oakland 16-6, but the Grizzlies fired back and began to tighten the score. WKU claimed set three 25-19. 

Freshman outside hitter Katie Howard had her WKU volleyball debut in the third set. A solo block was her first play for the team. 

WKU vs Notre Dame

Set 1 

Notre Dame was first to put up a point after a WKU attack error. Matthews followed this play with her first kill of the match. 

The Lady Toppers were ahead 15-6 going into the first media timeout of the match. WKU was able to pick up a 7-1 scoring run halfway through the set, forcing the Fighting Irish to call a timeout at 18-10. 

A kill from Jackson brought set one to setpoint, with the Lady Toppers up by 10. A WKU service error caused setpoint to be in play once again. A Notre Dame attack error brought in WKU’s first set win of the night, 25-15. 

Set 2 

Notre Dame was again able to pull in the first point of the set with a kill by Lindsey Miller. A kill by Matthews allowed WKU’s first point. 

Dieudonne hit her first kill of the night following Briggs’ fourth, pushing the Lady Toppers ahead 4-3. 

The two sides saw a much tighter set compared to the first. WKU was able to gain a three-point lead 21-18 after a kill by Briggs. This advantage was followed by a Notre Dame timeout. 

Two Fighting Irish service errors and a kill by Jackson led set two to set point 24-21. Notre Dame followed with a kill by Lindsey Miller. 

A kill from Jackson brought in WKU’s second set win of the night 25-22. The Lady Toppers compiled a .321 hitting percentage in the second set. 

Set 3 

WKU achieved the first point of the set with an ace from Katie Isenbarger, her first of the match. A service error from Isenbarger allowed the Fighting Irish to see their first point of the set. 

Notre Dame called its first timeout after a kill by Jackson and a Fighting Irish attack error.

“As much as we struggled defending this morning, that’s how good we were defending this afternoon,” Hudson said. 

The Lady Toppers’ 8-5 lead was shortened to 9-8 following back-to-back kills from Notre Dame’s Lauren Tarnoff. WKU went on a 4-0 scoring run, ending at 12-8, which included kills from Matthews and Dieudonne. 

The Fighting Irish pushed back with their own 4-0 scoring run, three of the points coming from WKU errors. A bad set from Ashley Hood led to a 12-12 tie resulting in Hudson calling WKU’s first timeout of the set. 

A Notre Dame service error allowed WKU to get a point following the timeout. An attack error from the Irish led to Notre Dame calling a timeout. Aubrey Hamilton hit a kill for her team following the timeout, but WKU still kept a one-point lead, 20-19. 

An ace by Notre Dame’s Hamilton knotted up the score 23-23. Two Notre Dame attack errors brought set three to set point, and Briggs and Isenbarger put together a block to end the game 25-23. 

“We are so competitive, we are such teammates, I’m so proud of us for this,” Briggs said. “We stuck together and we really played hard.” 

WKU faces Loyola Chicago tomorrow at noon CT. Fans can follow the match by tuning in at ESPN 102.7 FM.

Volleyball reporter Cassady Lamb can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @lambp0p.