WKU claims 10th C-USA win of the season over Middle Tennessee, Hilltoppers win East Division

WKU Junior Lauren Matthews (5), WKU Junior Katie Isenbarger (20) WKU Senior Kayland Jackson (15) celebrate during the game against FIU on Monday, March 8, 2021 in Diddle Arena. 

Cassady Lamb

WKU (16-0), (10-0, C-USA) ended its series Sunday against rival Middle Tennessee State (5-9), (4-7, C-USA) with a 3-0 sweep. This match cleared the team’s 13th sweep of the season.

Sunday’s match increased WKU’s win-streak against MTSU to 17.

Junior middle hitter Lauren Matthews brought in 13 kills and 15.5 points throughout the match, maintaining a .722 hitting clip. Junior middle hitter Katie Isenbarger and sophomore outside hitter Paige Briggs both brought in 10.5 points for their team. Isenbarger hit nine kills and Briggs hit eight and saw 14 digs.

With the clean sweep of the Blue Raiders the Hilltoppers have clinched the C-USA East Division. 

{{tncms-inline account=”WKU Volleyball” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🏆 East Division Champs 🏆With today's sweep we've secured the East Division regular season title‼<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoTops?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoTops</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TopsTogether?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TopsTogether</a> <a href="https://t.co/7K5lOX6lTG">pic.twitter.com/7K5lOX6lTG</a></p>— WKU Volleyball (@WKUVolleyball) <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUVolleyball/status/1373715846049136640?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 21, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/WKUVolleyball/status/1373715846049136640″ type=”twitter”}}

Set 1

Matthews kicked off Sunday’s match with a kill, giving WKU the first point of the afternoon. The Lady Toppers then saw an early 3-0 run, which included an ace by Briggs, putting them up 9-4. 

A big block by Briggs let the Tops bring in another 3-0 run at 15-9. The run continued, ending at 5-0, the largest so far, after a kill by Briggs and an MTSU attack error.

A kill from senior right side Kayland Jackson continued by a block aided by Isenbarger let WKU get the 20th point of the set. These plays were followed by an MTSU timeout, the first timeout of the match.

Coming out of the timeout, Jackson hit another kill, bringing the Lady Toppers up to an eight-point lead. 

Four continuous MTSU errors inevitably brought in the first set win of the match for WKU. The Lady Toppers were able to pull in the set after a block by Sophomore outside hitter Avri Davis and Matthews. WKU won the set 25-14, an 11-point lead.

Set 2

Again WKU was able to get up on the scoreboard first due to a kill by Matthews. Back-to-back errors stemming from MTSU put the tops up 3-1. 

MTSU called an early timeout after a kill by Matthews and another MTSU attack error brought WKU’s lead up to four points.

A kill from Isenbarger got the match started back up following the timeout. This play brought WKU’s lead to 8-3, its largest of the match.

A set of kills by Isenbarger let the Lady Toppers again see a new largest lead of the match of six as well as the first double-digit score of the set.

The Blue Raiders called their second timeout of set two after Isenbarger and Davis committed a block. An attack error immediately followed the timeout, allowing WKU to gain a point, bringing the score up to 14-6.

Heading towards the end of the set, WKU saw a 3-0 run including kills from Isenbarger and Davis. These plays brought the Lady Toppers closer to winning their second set win of the day.

A kill by Isenbarger began set point, and WKU stayed at 24 points for two more plays, while Blue Raider Emma Grever hit a kill and Marley Banton saw an ace for MTSU.

Jackson concluded set two with another WKU set win and an eight-point lead 25-17 after her third kill of the day.

Set 3

The third set of the match saw a familiar start with WKU being the first to put up points after a kill from Matthews. The Lady Toppers went on an early run, putting them up 5-0 against the Blue Raiders. This beginning run was paused by an MTSU timeout.

A six-point was acquired after an MSTU ball handling error occurred after the timeout. In the following play, a kill by freshman Amelia Van Derr Werff let MTSU see its first point of the set.

MTSU called another timeout succeeding a kill by Isenbarger and back-to-back Blue Raider attack errors.

Matthews achieved a double-double after hitting her 10th kill of the match, and she continued this play with a block, bringing the score up 15-6.

She then saw another big block, allowing WKU a lead of 11 points.

The Blue Raiders were able to obtain a double-digit score after a kill by freshman Taylor Eisert. MTSU went on a 4-0 scoring run heading towards the end of the set, shortening WKU’s lead to seven points.

A kill by Davis pushed the set to set point, followed by a kill from Matthews to finish off the set with a WKU victory. The team completed set three with a 25-16 lead.

Up next for the Lady Toppers is the program’s first-ever matches against Old Dominion. The team will travel to Norfolk, VA to finish off the regular season. The C-USA tournament will follow next week, April 1-3.

Volleyball beat reporter Cassady Lamb can be reached [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @lambp0p.