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Head coach Travis Hudson speaks to his team during a timeout in the Lady Toppers' matchup against Texas-El Paso. 

WKU volleyball faced a difficult end to an up-and-down season, falling in its opening match of the Conference USA Tournament against Southern Miss. WKU finished its 2018 campaign with a 20-10 mark, the 19th consecutive 20-win season. 
 
“We’ve had trouble with the young group sustaining play all year long,” Hudson said. “We’ve built leads and lost them and this just is not something new for our team, but it really jumped up and bit us at the wrong time of the year.”
 
The Lady Toppers were able to take the first two sets against the Golden Eagles, taking the second match by a 10-point margin. WKU’s offense faltered after the second set, as the team recorded a hitting percentage of .000 or worse in the final three sets. 
 
Freshman Lauren Matthews led the way for WKU offensively with 18 kills and four blocks, while junior Sophia Cerino added 12 kills, four service aces and two blocks.  
 
With the defeat, two WKU seniors close out their careers.
 
Preseason C-USA Player of the Year Rachel Anderson finished her last match for the WKU with 10 kills and five blocks. Senior Mary Martin closed out her career with a double-double effort, notching 41 assists and 10 digs. 
 
Hudson called the loss “a tough end” to the pair of seniors’ careers on the Hill.
 
“Those kids have never known anything other than championships in their time here, so I’m sure this is a very bitter pill for them to swallow,” Hudson said. “They’ve always been winners and they’ll be winners moving forward in their lives.”
 
The Lady Toppers will not play in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship this postseason.
 
Reporter Casey McCarthy can be reached at 270-745-6291 and casey.mccarthy573@topper.wku.edu