WKU Volleyball media day: Hudson previews much anticipated fall season

Mason Fletcher, Sports Reporter

Members of WKU’s volleyball program addressed the media before the start of its much-anticipated 2022 season at the Paul Just Media Center in Diddle Arena Monday morning. 

WKU Volleyball will open the 2022 season ranked No. 21 in the country and will be challenged with a grueling non conference schedule. The red and white host the No. 3 ranked Louisville Cardinals on Aug. 31 in their home opener. WKu will also travel to Knoxville to face the No. 28 Tennessee Lady Vols on Sept. 13. 

“We’re going to be able to compete with anybody on our schedule, ” head coach Travis Hudson said.  “I just think maybe we’re a little more vulnerable, more vulnerable than we’ve been in the past because we had such experience everywhere at a lot of those role playing positions. We’ve got new faces, so I think it’ll be a little more uneven and we’re gonna have to grind our way through some of these.”

The program looks to kick off yet another successful campaign, despite graduating six seniors. WKU also will head into this season without the best server in school history, Hallie Shelton. Coach Hudson believes that after losing so many key players, everyone on the roster has to step up and fill that void.

“One of the biggest things going into this season was replacing the best server in school history, Hallie Shelton. So everyone has to pick up a little bit of that slack,” Hudson said.

Hudson said he will lean on his fifth-year seniors Lauren Matthews and Katie Isenbarger to anchor the squad this fall.

“I’m really grateful to be back here,” Isenbarger said. “I just want everyone to be locked in with me, that’s all I can really ask for from this team. I think if everyone just buys in, that’s going to lead to a really great season.”

Injuries present yet another hurdle for Hudson’s club. Sophomore Kelsey Brangers will be on the sideline to start the season. Hudson told the media that Brangers is the “best defender” on the team and they will have to focus on making up for such a tremendous defensive presence.

 “Offensively we’ll be fine,” Hudson said. “You hear in every sport defense wins championships and Kelsey Brangers was our best defensive player. So that’s going to be a challenge for us. Offensively we are going to be phenomenal, we had the second best offense in the country last year. I don’t think any of us really have any doubts that we will be a really good offensive team.”

WKU will host the Conference USA tournament this season. Hudson believes his biggest goal this year is to fill the stands of Diddle Arena to create an incredible atmosphere for his team and the WKU faithful during the conference tournament.

“There’s so many people here in this community that love volleyball,” Hudson said. “We appreciate them so much for the support that they give us and I’m on a mission this year to get those stands filled.”

The Hilltoppers start the season in Peoria, Ill. facing the Miami University Redhawks. This will kick off a three game tournament before the team travels home to take on the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals in a must-see battle of two in-state rivals.