- (RV) Western Kentucky def. Florida International 3-0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-18)
- Western Kentucky improves to 21-2 (7-0, C-USA); Florida International falls to 2-12 (1-6, C-USA)
- Miami, Florida (C-USA Match)
- Attendance: 102
- Box Score
Miami, Florida – (RV) Western Kentucky kept up its perfect record in Conference USA action while extending its overall winning streak to 17 in a road sweep of Florida International.
The Hilltoppers out-hit the Panthers .326 to .108, had more blocks (6-4) and digs (40-30), but maybe their most decided advantage was serving as they out-aced Florida International 11-1.
Nine of those aces came from a combination of Rachel Anderson, Sydney Engle and Sophia Cerino, as the trio each logged three. While Cerino was in to do just that, serve effectively, Anderson (12 kills, .409, two blocks) and Engle (nine kills, .350, nine digs, two blocks) put together all-around performances.
There were plenty of other strong days for Hilltoppers with Alyssa Cavanaugh (eight kills, .350, four digs) and Jessica Lucas (35 assists, four digs, three kills) part of the seven athletes with three or more kills on the day. In the losing effort for Florida International, Jennifer Ene (eight kills) hit .500. However, the two most most often attacker in Tajia Thomas and Margherita Bianchin were limited to 11 total kills on 50 swings with 13 errors as Emma Kowalkowski (14 digs) led the Western Kentucky defense.
The first two sets were all Western Kentucky as the Hilltoppers used 5-0 and 6-0 runs in the first to lead coast-to-coast. A 7-1 run to start and a 4-0 run to finish in the second continued that trend of Western Kentucky spurts as they still hadn’t allowed a lead change. That finally ended with FIU leading 12-8 in the third but seven unanswered from the visiting team gave them a lead they wouldn’t lose again as it was part of a 17-6 finish to the match.
Moving on, Western Kentucky will face UTEP and UTSA this week to kick-off a four-match home stand. For Florida International, they will be at Marshall and at Louisiana Tech this week as they try to rebound from the loss.
Courtesy of Western Kentucky:
MIAMI, Fla. – On one of the team’s toughest weekends of travel yet, WKU Volleyball continued its winning ways by wrapping up the stretch with a sweep at FIU on Sunday. The Lady Toppers have now strung together 22-straight victorious sets, the most by the program since the 2013 campaign. Additionally, the Red and White now own wins in their last 17 matches and have won 32-straight over Conference USA foes.
“We’re happy to get a win at the end of a brutal road trip travel wise,” head coach Travis Hudson shared. “Our kids are continuing to improve on the defensive side. I’m proud of the way we played today.”
WKU improved to 21-2 on the season with its 16th sweep of the season and now sits at 7-0 at the halfway point of its Conference USA slate. FIU dropped to 2-12 overall and 1-6 in league play with the loss.
Claiming the first five points of the day, WKU would never trail in the match’s opening set from Miami, Fla. After FIU got on the board following a WKU attack error, the Lady Toppers pushed ahead to an 8-1 advantage before the Panthers would score again. FIU pulled within four at 11-7 but the Red and White rattled off six-consecutive points to put the set away. WKU claimed its 20th-straight set, and first of the match, with a 25-11 victory over FIU.
Set two opened with WKU taking a 3-0 lead and pushing it ahead to a 7-1 advantage. The Lady Toppers were again the first team to double digits with a 10-2 lead before FIU battled back, claiming seven of the next nine points to cut WKU’s lead to two. In the span of the next four points, Rachel Anderson registered a pair of kills while Alyssa Cavanaugh added a service ace in addition to an FIU attack error. Down the stretch, the Lady Toppers claimed the set’s final four points, capping the 25-14 win off with a block assist from Cavanaugh and Kayland Jackson. The Lady Topper defense held FIU to a -.034 hitting clip in the set and a .000 clip through the match’s first two frames.
FIU came back strong in set three, owning as large as a four-point lead over WKU at the 12-8 point. Sydney Engle halted the FIU run with a kill before Sophia Cerino checked in for her first of seven serves as the Red and White used a seven-point run to regain control. In all, WKU pieced together a 14-2 run for a 22-14 lead in the decisive third set. The Panthers claimed four of the match’s final six points but it was too late as WKU won its 22nd-consecutive set of play with the 25-18 decision.
Anderson led the way offensively for WKU, notching 12 kills for her 14th double-digit showing of the season. The junior worked at a .409 hitting clip with just three attack errors on 22 swings. Anderson also added a career-high three aces from behind the service line to go along with a dig and a pair of blocks.
Engle finished just one kill and one dig shy of another double double, recording nine kills on 20 swings (.350%) and nine digs to go along with three aces, two blocks and two assists. Engle, Anderson and Sophia Cerino each posted three service aces on the day, the first time the team posted double-digit tallies in the category since last season.
Working from the pin, Cavanaugh tallied eight kills on 20 swings for a .350 offensive efficiency. The senior also added four digs, a block, an assist and a service ace.
Facilitating the offense to a .326 hitting clip was setter Jessica Lucas. With 35 assists in the three-set match, Lucas and the WKU attackers connected on 51.5% of the senior’s sets for kills. Lucas added four digs, three kills and a block as well.
Emma Kowalkowski was the only player from either side to record double-digit digs, posting 14 for her 12th double-digit showing of the season. The libero also chipped in an assist.
At the net, WKU outblocked FIU 6.0-4.0 with four different Lady Toppers owning two blocks including Anderson, Engle, Taylor Dellinger and Jackson. Cavanaugh and Maggie Singleton each added a block as well.
Heading back home, WKU Volleyball will host its next four matches from Diddle Arena. A weekend visit from UTEP and UTSA is on tap for Oct. 20 and Oct. 22 before Marshall and UAB come to town the following weekend.
Courtesy of Florida International:
– FIU fell in three to the league’s buzzsaw team, WKU, which won its 17th-straight match in a 3-0 decision (25-11, 25-14, 25-18) Sunday in Miami.
– The Lady Tops were too much to handle from the start, serving 11 aces on the afternoon. They were also efficient on the attack, producing a .326 attack percentage.
– FIU was up-and-down in the match, stringing together a few runs and four blocks, but had trouble scoring points when WKU was on serve., with a 0.384 sideout percentage.
– FIU was led in kills by seniors Jennifer Ene (Carrollton, Texas) and Taija Thomas (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), with eight each. Ene had no errors on 16 attempts for a team-best .500 attack percentage.
– The Panthers got seven digs each from junior Margherita Bianchin (Traviso, Italy) and sophomore libero Helene Thelle (Tolvsrød, Norway).
– Freshman setter Molly Feldmeth (South Pasadena, California) had 12 assists, with fellow freshman Aleksandra Grigoreva (Moscow, Russia) adding 10.
Stat of the Match
The Panthers hit for an attack percentage of .323 in the third set to bring the mark up to .108 for the match.
FIU hits the road for next weekend’s pair of contests, at Marshall on Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern and at LA Tech on Sunday at 2 p.m.
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