WKU increases win streak to 15, three regular season matches remain

WKU junior Lauren Matthews (5), WKU freshman Sam Canner (17) attempts to block the ball during the against FIU on Sunday, March 7, 2021 in Diddle Arena.

Cassady Lamb

WKU (15-0), (9-0, C-USA) began its series Saturday against rival Middle Tennessee State (5-8), (4-6, C-USA). The Lady Toppers swept the Blue Raiders 3-0, their 12th sweep of the season.

Before Saturday, these two teams had not met since Nov. 22, 2019.

Sophomores Paige Briggs and Avri Davis achieved 24.5 points together for WKU. Briggs hit 12 kills and 13 digs and Davis seven kills. Senior Kayland Jackson saw seven kills and a .778 hitting percentage. Senior setter Nadia Dieudonne had 37 assists in the match.

Set 1

MTSU was first to get up on the scoreboard following an attack error from Lauren Matthews. Blue Raider sophomore Marley Banton then hit two aces, putting the Blue Raiders up by three early on.

A kill by Matthews led WKU to see its first point of the match. WKU then climbed its way up to a tie for the first time in the match at 5-5 after a kill from junior middle hitter Katie Isenberger. Five plays later, another kill from Isenbarger let the team see their first lead of the match.

WKU then went on a 3-0 scoring run, beginning with a kill by Davis, followed by a kill by Matthews, and ending with a kill by Dieudonne. This run was cut by Blue Raider sophomore Kayla Henley, hitting a kill to make the score 12-10.

A block by Davis and Isenbarger put the Lady Toppers up 18-15 and led to an MTSU timeout. Following the timeout, sophomore Dasia Smith and Henley hit two kills for MTSU. WKU shot back with a kill by Jackson beginning a set-ending 6-0 scoring run.

Two aces by freshman defensive specialist Cameron Mosley closed out set one with a WKU win. WKU claimed the first set 25-17. 

Set 2

MTSU was again able to bring in points to start the set. A kill by Matthews let WKU see its first point of the set, followed by an early 3-0 run. 

An ace by Briggs allowed the Lady Toppers to get double-digits on the scoreboard to lead by two, 10-8. In the following play, WKU’s 4-0 run was ended by a WKU service error following MTSU’s first timeout of the set.

Three MTSU attack errors led to the Blue Raiders taking their second timeout of the set. These errors put WKU up 14-9.

WKU showed yet another run, this time a five-point one. It began with a block by Davis and ended with a service ace from Ashley Hood. This run let WKU see a lead of nine points.

The Lady Toppers saw their first double-digit lead of the match in set two, 23-13, following a block by Briggs. 

A kill by Briggs led the set to setpoint, WKU leading by 10. A kill by Blue Raider freshman Amelia Van Der Werff let setpoint go on for two plays, but the Lady Toppers capped set two off in the following play after an MTSU service error. WKU still kept its double-digit lead, ending the set 25-15.

Set 3

WKU was the first to see a point on the scoreboard in the third and final set due to a kill by Davis. The team achieved three points in a row early on in the set, giving them an early 4-1 lead.

A kill by Hood broke a 5-5 tie, with a block by Briggs and Isenbarger putting the team back up to two points. Seven plays later, a kill by Davis let WKU see a double-digit score in set three and a lead of three points. MTSU followed this play with its first timeout of the set.

The Lady Toppers saw its second three-point lead of the third set after a block by Jackson and Isenbarger. This led to MTSU calling another timeout, their third of the set.

Blue Raider Van Der Werff came out of the timeout with a kill. Briggs shot back with a kill, her 10th of the match. This kill put the Lady Toppers up by three, 18-15.

A kill by Isenbarger led to set point, which was followed by a kill by Van Der Werff, again leading set point to be in play twice.

WKU pulled in its third set win of the day after a kill by Jackson. The team led 25-22. MTSU was not able to catch a lead in the third set, with WKU staying on top the entire duration of the set.

This rival series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. CST at MTSU. The match will be available to stream on CUSA.tv.

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