Hilltoppers prepare for C-USA Championship

WKU Volleyball Head Coach Travis Hudson yelling to his players during the game against FIU on Monday, March 8, 2021 in Diddle Arena.

Cassady Lamb

WKU (18-0), (12-0, C-USA) will be beginning the C-USA Volleyball Tournament Thursday with a match against North Texas (11-10), (6-6, C-USA).

WKU’s first match is slated for Thursday at noon against the Mean Green. 

The Hilltoppers are currently staying in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where the tournament will take place. All matches will be played at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Lady Toppers ended their regular season this past Saturday with a 3-0 sweep against Old Dominion. WKU closed out set one with a 19-point lead. The team saw its best lead of the season with a 20 point margin finalizing the first set against Florida Atlantic on Feb. 8 this season. 

Senior Kayland Jackson said the team put their best foot forward in this last game they had played.

“That was something that I’ve never experienced before, I think half of our team has never experienced before,” Jackson said. “So it was pretty amazing to see that. It just shows what we can do if we really lock-in, and we all come together and meet each other in the middle, and just make sure that we’re all doing what we’re supposed to do.”

C-USA announced All-Conference teams Wednesday afternoon, included in those teams are four Lady Toppers. 

Sophomore outside hitter Paige Briggs, senior setter Nadia Dieudonne and junior middle hitter Lauren Matthews are on the roster for the 2020-21 All-Conference First Team. Junior middle hitter Katie Isenbarger is on the roster for the Second Team.

Dieudonne said Wednesday over Zoom that this accomplishment is “awesome.”

“You know, being recognized for what you do is obviously a really good feeling,” Dieudonne said. “But, I go back to saying, you can’t really shine in what you do if the people around you aren’t really helping you out. I just wouldn’t be able to get the awards of All-Conference and everything if it wasn’t for my teammates.”

North Texas junior outside hitter Rhett Robinson has been selected to C-USA’s All-Conference First Team.

“Well, we’re here in Hattiesburg, we made it,” head coach Travis Hudson said Wednesday. “We made it through this COVID season and I’m awfully, awfully proud of what our team has done to this point.”

The last time the Lady Toppers have faced the Mean Green was Nov. 8, 2019, a match resulting in a 3-1 WKU win.

The semi-finals are to be held on Friday, and the championship will conclude the tournament on Saturday. More information on the bracket can be found here.

Hudson said North Texas is as good as anyone in the league, and that they’re a team that has the chance to win the whole tournament.

“They’re deep, they’re athletic, they’re talented, they’re senior-laden,” Hudson said. “They’ve got all the markings of a team that can win this thing.”

Jackson said the team has been really focusing on defense and the first line of defense: blocking.

“[We’re] just trying to make sure that we do the best that we can do on our side of the court to make it a good game for everyone to watch and just a smooth ride for us,” Jackson said. “We know it will be a little bumpy because it’s tournament time, like Travis says, it’s March Madness.”

“And anything can happen,” Jackson added

All C-USA Volleyball Tournament matches will be available to watch on ESPN+.

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