Volleyball

WKU women's head coach Travis Hudson cheers on his team as they play against Tennessee State on Tuesday in Diddle Arena.

The WKU volleyball team won all three matches on its slate last weekend, with the final two being clean sweeps to claim the Toledo Blue & Gold Tournament crown.

The Lady Toppers (3-0) are now undefeated to start the 2019 season, including a tight win on Friday and two dominant wins in a doubleheader on Saturday.

“I’m really happy with the weekend overall,” head coach Travis Hudson said in a postgame press release. “We improved with each match throughout the weekend, and that is what’s most important to me at this point, regardless of the outcome.”

WKU was taken to its limit against Loyola (Chicago) on Friday, but the Lady Toppers overpowered the Ramblers in the end to win their first match of the season 3-2.

Four Lady Toppers registered double-digit kills, while freshman Paige Briggs and junior transfer Nadia Dieudonne each recorded double-doubles in their WKU debuts.

“Well, that was a good old-fashioned early season struggle,” Hudson said
in a postgame press release. “We did not play very well in a lot of facets of the game today but found a way to win. I thought we finally found a rhythm in that fifth set so hopefully that carries over to tomorrow.”

The Lady Toppers won the first of their two sweeps against Toledo on Saturday. WKU won two out of the three sets by double digits, as Briggs lead the team in kills with 11. As a team, WKU hit at a .398 offensive rate while holding Toledo to a .140 percentage.

In their last match of the weekend, the Lady Toppers swept the North Dakota State Bison. But WKU had a bit more trouble than its previous matchup earlier in the day.

WKU traded blows with NDSU in the first set but scored 19 of the next 25 points to claim the set 25-12. The Lady Toppers went on to win the second set 25-18 and edged out the Bison in the third set 25-23 to earn the right to be called Toledo Blue & Gold Tournament champion.

Dieudonne — a transfer from Xavier — was named the Toledo Blue & Gold Tournament MVP. Fellow WKU newcomer Briggs and sophomore Lauren Matthews also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team for the Lady Toppers.

WKU is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2017, but the Lady Topper program has started a season with three straight wins 10 different times under Hudson’s tutelage.

The Lady Toppers’ early season road swing continues this week, as WKU will head to Louisville to participate in the Fleur de Lis Tournament. WKU will face a very tough field, as two out of its three matches will come against Power 5 opponents.

WKU will first meet Arizona State on Friday morning. The two teams have played only once before — a 3-2 WKU win in 2008. The Sun Devils finished last season 14-18 while going 5-15 in the Pac-12. Like WKU, ASU started the season out strong by going 3-0 in the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup over the weekend.

The Lady Toppers will also meet hosting Louisville on Friday night. The Lady Toppers haven’t faced the Cardinals since a 3-1 Louisville win in 2017. WKU has never defeated Louisville in school history, posting 0-16 record in the all-time series.

Last season, Louisville finished 22-9 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Illinois. The Cardinals also won 11 out of 14 matches at home in 2018.

WKU’s last matchup will be against Tennessee Tech on Saturday. WKU hasn’t faced the Golden Eagles since the 2014 season, where the Lady Toppers won in a clean 3-0 sweep.

The Lady Toppers are currently on a 19-match winning streak against the Golden Eagles and leads Tennessee Tech 24-8 in the all-time series.

The Golden Eagles are currently 0-3 to start the season. Tennessee Tech lost all three of its matches in the Michigan Invitational, including a loss to host No. 15 Michigan.

The team’s first game against ASU starts at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. Later that evening, WKU will meet the Cardinals at 6:30 p.m. The Lady Toppers’ last game of the weekend will take place against Tennessee Tech on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at 270-745-6291 and kaden.gaylord559@topper.wku.edu. Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.

Kaden Gaylord is a sports reporter for the College Heights Herald. He currently covers the women's volleyball team and previously covered the baseball team.