WKU Volleyball opens conference slate with sweep of UAB


Arthur H. Trickett-Wile

The WKU Hilltoppers celebrate after a point against the Marshall Thundering Herd on the evening of Sept. 24, 2021 during their volleyball match in Diddle Arena.

Cole McIntire, Sports reporter

No. 24 WKU Volleyball (13-2, 1-0 C-USA) defeated the UAB Blazers (5-8, 0-1 C-USA) 3-0 Friday night at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, to open up Conference USA play.

 The Hilltoppers added to their streak of 45 consecutive conference wins, the longest active run in Division I volleyball. The last time WKU lost a Conference USA game, only fifth-years Lauren Matthews and Katie Isenbarger were members of the team.

Senior Paige Briggs continued her dominance on the court with 16 kills. Redshirt freshman Callie Bauer had a game-high 36 assists. The Hilltoppers were led by an impressive hitting percentage of .495.

“Our big thing is always win to 10,” Isenbarger said. “We want to win the first 10 points of the game. I think it’s a big determiner of the game if you get a jump start, it’s really important.”

The Hilltoppers dominated the first set, winning 25-18. WKU was led by Briggs who had seven kills in the set. The Hilltoppers only had one error compared to eight from UAB. 

The Hilltoppers had a hitting percentage of .643 compared to .267 for UAB in the set. The Hilltoppers’ disciplined play allowed them to make a statement in their first set of conference play this year.

WKU opened the second set opposite of how it played in the first. On the first serve, sophomore Katie Howard had a service error which led to a 3-0 run by UAB. Then, the Hilltoppers created a run of their own.

They went on a 3-0 run to tie up the set. The set was closely contested with teams trading runs. The set was tied at 16 until WKU ended it with a 9-3 run, taking it 25-19.

The third set opened with a  dominant 5-0 run by the Hilltoppers. WKU had 17 kills in the third set, decimating the Blazer defense. The Hilltoppers were able to complete the sweep, winning the third set 25-18.

WKU has played a difficult non-conference slate this season. Head coach Travis Hudson emphasized the importance of their schedule. 

“We’ve played this tough schedule where every game has been tooth and nail the way through,” Hudson said. “Now we’ve got these comfortable leads and I thought we relaxed a little bit, and we’ve got to learn that it’s us against us.”

The Hilltoppers’ next match will be against Middle Tennessee University on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. CT.

Sports reporter Cole McIntire can be reached at [email protected].