Hilltoppers take down 49ers 3-1 behind career night from Davis


Arthur Trickett-Wile

Cassady Lamb, Volleyball reporter

No. 17 WKU (23-1, 11-0 C-USA) took on Charlotte (12-11, 5-6 C-USA) Friday evening to begin its final regular-season series of 2021. WKU defeated Charlotte 3-1 after falling in the first set.

The 49ers have not won a match against WKU since 1986. The Hilltoppers last met Charlotte on Feb. 22, 2021, sweeping the 49ers 3-0. WKU holds a 17-3 edge in the all-time series. The win pushed WKU’s conference and road match winning streaks to 44 and 22 games respectively, both marks leading the nation.

Senior middle hitter Lauren Matthews hit 22 kills and held a .472 hitting clip. Junior outside hitter Avri Davis had a career-high of 14 kills along with a .481 hitting clip for the night. Junior outside hitter Paige Briggs and fifth-year right side Kayland Jackson both hit eight kills. Briggs also hit two aces and had 16 digs for the night.

“Avri Davis changed the entire match today,” head coach Travis Hudson said following the match. “[She] made all the right plays, she was special and really settled us down.”

Fifth-year defensive specialist Logan Kael had 20 digs in the match. Fifth-year setter Nadia Dieudonne assisted 55 balls.

“[Logan Kael], Hallie [Shelton] and Paige [Briggs] really stayed solid in serve receive,” Hudson said. “Kelsey Brangers really gave us a lift defensively too.”

Set 1: CLT 25, WKU 20

Jackson began the match with a kill, WKU’s 165th of the season. Charlotte was able to pull ahead to a 10-7 lead. 

Charlotte’s lead grew to five points after a block by Amani McArthur, forcing WKU to take its first timeout of the match. Charlotte found its largest lead of the set at 16-10. Matthews shot back with a kill.

A WKU service error led to a Charlotte lead of 23-16 heading into the back end of the first set. Three kills in a row by Matthews temporarily staved off set point until a kill by Bethany Clayton brought it about. A WKU service error closed out the set 25-20. The loss was WKU’s second dropped set of conference play this fall.

Set 2: WKU 25, CLT 19

A kill by Matthews began the second set of the match. A block by Clayton gained Charlotte its first point of the set. 

WKU achieved an 8-5 lead over Charlotte, forcing the 49ers to take their first timeout of the match. Charlotte’s Sydney Rowan stopped the Hilltoppers’ 3-0 scoring run following the timeout.

A kill by Matthews allowed a 17-9 lead for the Hilltoppers, forcing another 49ers timeout. A kill by Avri Davis led to set point. A 49er attack error gave the 25th point to WKU, with the Hilltoppers taking the second set 25-19.

Set 3: WKU 25, CLT 14

Jackson was first to get a kill in the third set. An ace by Hallie Shelton allowed the Hilltoppers to gain an early 7-2 lead. WKU was first to get to 10 points after a kill by Katie Isenbarger.

WKU gained its largest lead of the night, 15-5, with a kill by Jackson. Another kill by Jackson increased the Hilltoppers advantage to 11 points. Charlotte responded to this new lead with a timeout. 

The Hilltoppers climbed to 20 points while maintaining their 11-point lead. A block by Jackson and Isenbarger closed out the third set with a 25-14 Hilltopper win.

Set 4: WKU 25, CLT 15

WKU was first to put up points in the fourth set with kills by Davis and Matthews. A 5-0 scoring run that led to a 13-7 Hilltopper lead was followed by a Charlotte timeout.

A block by Jackson and Matthews led to set point. A kill by Davis assisted by Kelsey Brangers ended the fourth set 25-15 while the Hilltoppers finished off with a double-digit lead.

“This game, we expected it to be tough,” Davis said. “We just knew it would be a hard one and we would have to come together and match [Charlotte’s] energy.”

WKU will take on the 49ers again on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 11 a.m. CT. The match will be available to stream on ESPN+. Fans can also tune in to 98.3 The EDGE to listen in on the match.

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