- Western Kentucky def. UTSA 3-0, (25-22, 25-15, 26-24)
- WKU improves to 23-2, 9-0 C-USA, UTSA falls to 7-13, 5-3 C-USA
- Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Attendance: 449
- Match Stats
Western Kentucky continues their dominance in Conference USA, as they have swept their ninth straight opponent as they downed UTSA Sunday afternoon. Dating back to the team’s five-set win over Florida Atlantic to open up conference play, the team has now won a total of 28 consecutive sets.
Additionally, the Toppers have now taken down their 34th straight C-USA opponent in the sweep over UTSA and their 50th straight C-USA win at Diddle Arena dating back to 2011.
The first set started off as a back and forth battle for each team, with UTSA taking a 14-11 lead mid-set. Taylor Dellinger stopped UTSA’s momentum with a kill but a kill from Brianna McCulloch brought the score to 15-12 UTSA. Three straight points from the Toppers tied things back up at 15-15 on a UTSA service error, Sydney Engle kill and Sophia Cerino ace. WKU pushed ahead to an 18-16 lead on kills from Dellinger, Alyssa Cavanaugh and a Hallie Shelton ace. Both teams traded off two points at a time until the Toppers ended things at 25-22 on a Dellinger kill.
UTSA jumped out to an early 3-1 lead over WKU with two kills from Megan Slan and a Cavanaugh hitting error. The Toppers responded with an 8-0 run over UTSA that included two aces from Emma Kowalkowski. Tara Teal stopped the momentum with a kill to make it 9-4 but the Toppers continued to chip away at UTSA to extend their lead to 15-7. Using runs and allowing UTSA to score only one to two points at a time, WKU was able to end the second 25-15.
UTSA jumped out to another 5-1 lead over WKU in the third set but the Toppers chipped back with a few mini-runs to tie things up at 9-9. UTSA forged ahead with another 4-0 run to go up 13-9. The Toppers were down 21-24 late in the set and went on a 5-0 run to end the match in three on kills from Rachel Anderson and blocks from Anderson, Dellinger, Jessica Lucas and Engle at 26-24.
WKU was led by Cavanaugh with 20 kills on a .459 hitting percentage while Anderson added another seven kills and seven blocks. Setter Lucas dished out 34 assists and four kills while Kowalkowski picked up a match-best nine digs.
UTSA was led by Marijeta Runjic with 12 kills and eight digs while Teal added another 10 kills and four blocks.
Courtesy of WKU Athletics
Trailing 24-21 with UTSA at set point in the third frame and its back against the wall, WKU Volleyball used a pair of Rachel Anderson kills and three blocks to score the match’s final five points and sweep UTSA Sunday afternoon in Diddle Arena. The straight-set win pushed WKU’s consecutive-set total to 28 dating back to the squad’s conference opener at Florida Atlantic.
The Lady Toppers are now 23-2 overall and 9-0 in Conference USA matchups while UTSA dropped to 7-13 on the year and 5-3 in league play. The sweep marked the first time either team in the series had ever won in the minimum sets as all prior meetings lasted four frames. WKU is now 5-1 all-time against UTSA.
WKU has claimed its last 19 matches dating back to the beginning of September. Additionally, the Red and White have now won 34 in a row over Conference USA foes and 50-straight matches when playing a conference opponent at Diddle Arena. The 50-match stretch dates back to the 2011 Sun Belt Conference days.
“Our kids expect to win,” head coach Travis Hudson said of the 50-match streak against conference opponents at home. “There’s really no other reason. We make plays down the stretch to stay in it. I’m really proud of today and I’m really, really proud of those kinds of streaks our program continues to achieve.”
When asked about the streak that began before she ever set foot on The Hill, Anderson shared, “We’ve worked hard to continue to achieve new accomplishments. The way we operate, the way we trust our coach, trust each player, that just says a lot about our program and the girls we recruit and the coaching staff we have.”
After taking a 1-0 lead in the opening set, WKU would trail most of the frame before finally regaining the lead at 17-16 for good on an Alyssa Cavanaugh kill. Hallie Shelton followed with a service ace before the Roadrunners called for a stop. The Lady Toppers pushed ahead by three before UTSA fought back within a tally but Jessica Lucas and Cavanaugh registered back-to-back kills to keep the hosts ahead. Cavanaugh converted a service ace to give WKU set point before a Taylor Dellinger kill shut the book on the 25-22 first-frame victory. Despite UTSA’s .625 hitting percentage in the set, the Lady Toppers found a way to the win, notching four service aces while taking advantage of UTSA’s errors.
UTSA struck first in set two but after a pair of early ties WKU was in the driver’s seat the rest of the way. Using the serve of Emma Kowalkowski, WKU strung together eight-straight points to set itself apart early. Up by nine at 18-9, the Red and White kept pushing ahead and eventually claimed the set by double digits at 25-15 on a Sydney Engle and Anderson block assist. The WKU attack grew stronger, hitting .346 in the frame while UTSA was held to a .036 attack rate. Cavanaugh tallied seven kills for the second-straight set as well.
Set three saw UTSA strike early and build a lead it would hold for much of the set. After WKU struck first on a Cavanaugh kill, UTSA recorded the next five points to open an early advantage. The Lady Toppers battled back to tie the tilt at 9-9 before UTSA strung together four points to regain the lead. Fighting back within a strike or two for much of the remainder of the frame, WKU faced a 24-21 hole. With no room for error, the Lady Toppers were flawless. Anderson found the floor for a kill to make the score 24-22 before teaming up with Dellinger on the next play for a block assist. After a UTSA stoppage, Anderson struck with her seventh kill of the match to knot the match at 24. With Lucas continuing to serve, the Lady Toppers took the lead for good on a block assist by Engle and Anderson before a solo stuff by Dellinger closed the book on the thrilling 26-24 set three win.
“I think it’s more about the mental conditioning than anything else,” Hudson said of the comeback third-set victory. “I think we have kids who have been in big matches, or who aren’t uncomfortable when it gets close. In fact, a lot of times we’re better when it gets tight because it raises our level of focus. This one’s all about our kids. They made plays when they needed to make them. We’ll move forward and hopefully get five more.”
WKU led the set for just three points, coming at 1-0, 25-24 and 26-24. The frame saw four tied scores, which were at 1-1, 8-8, 9-9 and 24-24.
After recording zero blocks in the opening set of the day, WKU refocused to tally five in each of the final two frames. Anderson led the way with seven block assists while Engle posted four. Dellinger finished with a pair of solo blocks in addition to an assist. Lucas (2), Cavanaugh (1) and Listenbee (1) got in on the action at the net as well.
Cavanaugh notched 20 kills on the day for a match high. The outing also marks the senior’s fourth 20-plus kill showing of the season. With 37 attacks on the match, Cavanaugh finished with a team-best .459 hitting clip in the contest. The Louisville native added three digs and an ace as well. Cavanaugh finished weekend play with 39 kills after notching 19 Friday night.
Facilitating the offense to a .356 attack efficiency, Lucas finished with 34 of the team’s 41 assists in the match. Better than 47 percent of the senior’s sets found the floor for kills by her teammates. Lucas added four kills as well, winning multiple jousts at the net.
Kowalkowski led the match with nine digs on the day. She also added two assists and two service aces. Shelton chipped in seven digs.
WKU’s other server to record multiple aces in the match in addition to Kowalkowski was Sophia Cerino who finished with three in the contest. The sophomore has three or more aces in each of the last three matches and now leads WKU on the year with 27.
Dellinger finished with six kills, three blocks and a dig on the day. Engle added five kills, four assists, four blocks, three digs and an ace to fill the stat sheet as well.
Regular season action from Diddle Arena will wrap up next weekend as Marshall and UAB come to town for a pair of C-USA matchups. Friday’s match with the Thundering Herd will start at 6 p.m. CT, while Sunday’s first serve is slated for noon. Sunday will be WKU Volleyball’s ‘Senior Day’ as the Lady Toppers will honor its five departing players in Alyssa Cavanaugh, Sydney Engle, Amara Listenbee, Jessica Lucasand Maggie Singleton.
Courtesy of UTSA Athletics
Despite a furious effort from the Roadrunners, UTSA volleyball fell to Conference USA leader and undefeated WKU (25-22, 25-15, 24-26) on Sunday at E.A. Diddle Arena. The Lady Toppers remained perfect at 9-0 in league play, while the Roadrunners fell to 5-3.
The UTSA (7-13, 5-3 C-USA) offense was pushed by veterans Marijeta Runjic, Kara Teal and Megan Slan. Runjic paced the squad with 12 kills while Teal added 10. Slan led the Roadrunners with a .778 hitting percentage off seven kills and zero errors.
As a team, the Roadrunners tallied 39 kills, 37 assists, 34 digs, seven blocks and three service aces while the Lady Toppers registered 43 kills, 41 assists, 25 digs, 10 blocks and eight service aces.
It was a full-on tick-for-tack battle in the first set with traded points until a kill from Slan ignited a 3-1 Roadrunner run, giving UTSA a 12-10 lead. The Lady Toppers continued to chip away, but Brianna McCulloch extended UTSA’s lead to 15-12 with a kill. WKU then picked up two kills and two service aces to claim an 18-16 advantage. The Lady Toppers maintained control for the rest of the set, claiming the frame off a kill from Taylor Dellinger.
WKU regrouped for a convincing 25-15 set two win, but Slan registered a solid .667 hitting percentage while Runjic added three kills.
Set three saw the Roadrunners battle to a 7-3 lead on back-to-back kills from Runjic and McCulloch. The Lady Toppers responded with a 6-2 run to tie the panel at nine but a Slan kill and a service ace from McCulloch kept UTSA in control. The Roadrunners cruised to a 24-21 lead but the WKU rallied for a 5-0 run to clinch its 18th straight victory this year.
The Roadrunners return to action next week as they host UAB and Louisiana Tech at the Convocation Center.