WKU Volleyball sweeps Lady Volunteers in Knoxville


Arthur H. Trickett-Wile

WKU outside hitter Paige Briggs (1) spiking over opponents in a volleyball game against Ole Miss at Diddle Arena on the evening of Sept. 10, 2021.

Piper McCoun, Sports reporter

No. 21 WKU Volleyball (10-1) dominated the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers (6-4) on Tuesday night in Knoxville, Tennessee, claiming all three sets for a statement sweep.

The victory marked the squad’s seventh win in a row and first win of the year over a Power Five program.

The Hilltoppers opened the set with a point off of a Lady Volunteer error and went on to complete a 7-2 run until a service error by sophomore Katie Howard gave the momentum back to Tennessee.

Errors by the Lady Volunteers and kills by senior Paige Briggs gave the Hilltoppers an eight point lead at 12-4, forcing a Tennessee timeout. Tennessee went on to score two points after the break, but the home team’s momentum quickly dissipated after three consecutive Tennessee attack errors.

Senior Jennifer Rush and sophomore Kenadee Coyle extended the lead to 19-8 after turning in kills for WKU. The teams traded points, but the Hilltoppers closed the first set with a twelve point lead at 25-13. 

Kills by fifth-year senior Lauren Matthews and Howard allowed the Hilltoppers to open the second set with a 5-1 run. Tennessee responded with two kills, but Matthews hit back with another kill of her own. A couple WKU errors brought the score to 7-6 with the Hilltoppers still on top.

The score remained close between the teams for the entirety of the second set. Briggs and Coyle scored kills to keep the Hilltoppers in the lead. WKU errors and Tennessee kills brought the set to a tie at 16-16. Coyle, Briggs and Matthews all struck for kills amidst trading points with the Volunteers. Two kills by  Matthews allowed the Hilltoppers to close the set 25-21. 

The beginning of the third set was slow for WKU as Tennessee went on a 5-2 run. The Hilltoppers were unable to respond until a kill by Briggs and an error by Tennessee brought the set to a tie at 7-7. After trading points, two back-to-back kills by fifth-year Katie Isenbarger and a kill from Briggs gave WKU its biggest lead of the set at 16-12.

The Volunteers went on a 5-0 run in response, taking the lead at 17-16 with the Hilltoppers trailing. A WKU error and kill by Tennessee forced a Hilltopper timeout. WKU responded with a kill from Matthews and an attack error by a Tennessee hitter, leading to a Volunteer timeout at 20-20. The teams went on to trade points and met at yet another tie at 23-23. Two attack errors by Tennessee sealed the fate of the Lady Volunteers and WKU won the deciding set 25-23. 

The Hilltoppers return to their home court on Friday as hosts of the WKU Volleyball Invitational where they will open the weekend against Tennessee Tech at 11 a.m. CT.

Sports reporter Piper McCoun can be reached at [email protected]