Hilltoppers earn eighth sweep in a row, complete perfect series against FIU


Arthur H. Trickett-Wile

The WKU Hilltoppers celebrate after a point against the Marshall Thundering Herd on the evening of Sept. 24, 2021 during their volleyball match in Diddle Arena.

Lynda Eernisse, Sports reporter

WKU Volleyball (15-1, 4-0 C-USA) had an outstanding weekend in Miami, Florida, sweeping the Florida International University Golden Panthers (3-8, 0-2 C-USA) 3-0 in both matches. The victory on Saturday afternoon marked the team’s eighth sweep in a row and 37th consecutive regular-season conference victory.

Usual suspects like senior middle hitter Lauren Matthews and junior outside hitter Paige Briggs were major contributors to the team’s success.

Matthews totaled 11 kills for the day, the most of anyone on either team, a .381 hitting percentage and 14.5 points. Right behind her, Briggs came out of the match with a total of 10 kills, a .348 hitting percentage and 12.5 points. 

“[Briggs] had some tremendous shots, and then I really liked Lauren’s demeanor the whole match,” head coach Travis Hudson said in a postgame radio interview.  “I thought she was really into it and very vocal and trying to keep everyone present.” 

WKU turned in a .306 hitting percentage and kept its opponents to a mark of just .087. WKU put together a .353 clip throughout the series as a whole and the Golden Panthers only managed a mark of .039.

Set 1: WKU 25, FIU 13

The Hilltoppers took the lead early in the first set of the day with two kills from Matthews, which then pressured FIU to call its first timeout with WKU leading 9-1. 

Matthews continued to excel on the court, securing two more kills as FIU called its second timeout of the match. Towards the end of the set, sophomore defensive specialist Cameron Mosely made her first appearance on the court of the weekend.

Set 2: WKU 25, FIU 18

WKU was slow out of the gate in the final set of the day with FIU taking its first lead of the match 3-1.

The Hilltoppers were able to find their footing and even out the score at 9-9. FIU struggled after this, committing nine attack errors compared to WKU’s two. 

WKU was then able to slowly climb to the lead with Briggs scoring her second ace of the day and Matthews finished out the set with yet another kill. 

Set 3: WKU 25, FIU 17

The Hilltoppers began the final set with a 3-0 lead. Shortly after, the Hilltoppers broke double-digits thanks to a kill by fifth-year right side Kayland Jackson. 

Freshman outside hitter Katie Howard scored a kill at match point to secure another sweep for her program.

“This has been a difficult stretch and I’m really really proud of how our kids have bounced back the last couple weeks,” Hudson said. “I think their energy has been good and I’m looking forward to one more and then giving them a very well-deserved weekend off.”

WKU will be facing Eastern Kentucky for a mid-week matchup in Richmond, Kentucky on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. CT. The Hilltoppers will then be able to catch their breath on an off-weekend before taking on Middle Tennessee State University at home on Oct. 15-16.

Sports reporter Lynda Eernisse can be reached at [email protected].