WKU Volleyball wins first two games of Hampton Inn Invitational


Credit: WKU Athletics

WKU Volleyball team celebrates during their game against Evansville on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021 in Diddle Arena.

Jake McMahon, Sports Reporter

WKU Volleyball (5-1) defeated the DePaul University Blue Demons (0-5) and Bowling Green State University Falcons (2-3) in the Hilltoppers’ first two games of the Hampton Inn Invitational Friday in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Game 1: WKU 3, DePaul 1

WKU followed up its loss against Louisville with a great performance against a talented DePaul squad. The Hiltopper offense finished the game with 56 total kills, 53 assists and nine service aces. The Hilltopper defense made it tough for DePaul to score all afternoon. WKU blocked seven DePaul shots and totaled 67 digs in four sets. 

Fifth-year senior Lauren Matthews drew first blood in set one with a kill assisted by redshirt freshman Callie Bauer. DePaul would score three straight points to take an early 3-1 lead. 

WKU had a tough time stopping DePaul at the net early in the set. Depaul led 10-6 until WKU’s Paige Briggs got going with two straight kills. WKU still trailed 11-8.

DePaul stayed ahead deep into the first set. The Blue Demona led 20-17. 

WKU and DePaul traded scores late in the set. DePaul led 23-22 due to a bad set from WKU freshman Abby Shaefaer. 

Briggs tied the game 23-23 with a kill assisted by Bauer. Bauer finished the game with a personal 3-0 scoring run to close out the first set of the tournament. WKU won the first set 25-23.

Set two was even closer than the first. The Blue Demons got off to another good start. WKU took an early 5-3 lead, but both teams would trade scores the entire second set.

Bauer had 14 assists in the second set alone, setting up teammates left and right. The set was tied 14-14 and both teams traded points the rest of the way. 

DePaul scored back-to-back kills to reach set point. Briggs followed with a kill of her own to tie the game at 25. Depaul won the second set 27-25 due to a service error by Schaefer and an attack error by Briggs.

The Hilltoppers came out on fire in the third set. DePaul started the set with a service error that led to a 5-3 start from WKU. Bauer assisted back-to-back kills from Briggs and sophomore Kenadee Coyle.  

The Blue Demons narrowed the lead to 10-8 with three straight scores. The Hilttopers went on their own 5-0 run to give them a 17-10 lead. 

WKU never looked back, only allowing seven more DePaul points. WKU handily won the third set 25-17.

The fourth set began with a blocked attack from Matthews. DePaul responded with a kill and a service ace, taking a 2-1 lead. That was the only time the Blue Demons would lead in the fourth set. 

The Hiltoppers went on a 6-0 scoring run until sophomore Katie Howard was penalized for carrying. WKU led 10-5 and was focused on closing DePaul out in the fourth set. 

The lead ballooned to 16-8. DePaul went on two small runs to bring the Blue Demons within six, but it was not enough. WKU would cruise to its third win of the season, 


Game 2: WKU 3, BGSU 1

WKU defeated Bowling Green State University 3-1 in their second game of the Hampton Inn Invitational. 

The WKU offense was outstanding against Bowling Green State. The Hilltoppers finished the game with a total of 52 kills, a hitting percentage of .266, seven service aces and 53 digs. 

Matthews and Briggs led the way for Hiltoppers. Matthews had 17 kills and a .419 hitting percentage. Briggs had 16 kills and a .371 hitting percentage. Both seniors combined for 42 of WKU’s total points.

WKU started the opening set behind early, facing as much as a four-point deficit. BGSU led 9-5. WKU played catch up until back-to-back Matthews kills brought the deficit back to one. 

From then on, WKU had all the momentum. A block from Katie Isanberger and Coyle sealed a set one victory for the Hilltoppers.

The second set started with both teams trading scores. Bowling Green sophomore Kat Mandly scored three of the next six points, sparking a 6-0 Falcons run. BGSU led 18-15 in the set.

 The Hilltoppers were able to cut the deficit back within one, but they weren’t able to put anything together and lost set two 22-25.

WKU came out on fire in set three. They went up 12-7 and never slowed down. 

This was the Hilltoppers’ strongest set of the match. They had a hitting percentage of .364 along with 10 kills. WKU won set three comfortably 25-17.

The Hiltoppers got off to a slow start in set four.  Bowling Green was up 15-10 and showed no signs of slowing down. 

Bowling Green was able to widen its lead to six points, 24-18, and had set point, looking like the Falcons were going to take the match into a pivotal fifth set. 

WKU went on a 6-0 run, knotting the game at 24. The Falcons scored the next point of the game but Matthews took the game over and solidified a WKU win. She had back-to-back kills and a game-winning block leading to a 27-25 comeback,

WKU will wrap up the Hampton Inn Invitational tomorrow against in-state rival Northern Kentucky at 11 a.m. CT.

Sports reporter Jake McMahon be reached at [email protected]