WKU Volleyball swept by Louisville in home opener


Arthur H. Trickett-Wile

WKU Hilltoppers break before their volleyball game against the Ole Miss Rebels on the evening of Sept. 10, 2021, at Diddle Arena. WKU lost 3-1.

Mason Fletcher, Sports reporter

The No. 22 ranked Hilltoppers (3-1) began their home campaign by hosting the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals (4-0) in a top-25 matchup in Diddle Arena. The Cardinals took the match 3-0.

“You know, we never gave ourselves a chance to win. It was pretty much the opposite of what I think a lot of people anticipated that match to be,” head coach Travis Hudson said in the postgame press conference.

Hudson said that, even though this match may be marked as a loss in the record book, he hopes his team will use it as fuel to push even harder the remainder of the year.

The Hilltoppers started the first set playing from behind after the Cardinals jumped out to a 13-2 lead. The quick start made it difficult for the Hilltoppers to recover.

The lead wouldn’t get any closer than six points for the remainder of the set, even with efforts from WKU freshman Abby Schaefer, who was responsible for a few points, and fifth-year Lauren Matthews, who contributed some kills for the home squad. 

The second set started much closer. Points from Matthews and senior Paige Briggs would keep the score tied at 10. WKU wouldn’t lead from then on. The Hilltoppers struggled to maintain pace with the Cardinals as the set went on, something Hudson blamed in part on first hits.

“This is about as nightmarish a box score you could look at. I mean, no aces and 13 errors, that alone keeps you from having a chance to win games,” Hudson said. “And then in service we had nine reception errors. We didn’t handle the ball well on first contact, then you become predictable.”

According to Hudson, the first half of set three would prove to be the best volleyball the Hilltoppers played all night. Nothing short of a battle between the two squads would leave the score tied at 16. 

Redshirt freshman Callie Bauer and sophomore Katie Howard were big reasons WKU hung around so long in the third set. The Cardinals put together a 7-0 run, putting them up 23-16, not leaving a whole lot of work to be done to finish the match with a 25-17 set win and sweep.

Despite the sweep, there was still a bright spot. Hudson was impressed with Schaefer’s performance, who stepped up to fill a need.

 “I love Abby Schaefer, Abby is going to be a very, very good player here at Western Kentucky. I will not budge from that,” Hudson said. “This was tough stuff man, and a lot has been put on her with Kelsey [Brangers] getting injured.”

The Hilltoppers will travel to Bowling Green, Ohio to take on the Depaul Blue Demons on Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. CT. 

Sports reporter Mason Fletcher can be reached at [email protected].