MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The No. 24 Hilltoppers notched a road win in Murfreesboro against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee, 3-0, in Conference USA action.
Even keel for both offense and defense, the Hilltoppers rallied up a .277 hitting clip, totaling 45 kills through the three frames, and six blocks against MTSU. Senior Paige Briggs hit another career milestone, entering the 1,000 club in digs after earning eight on the day.
Western Kentucky 3, Middle Tennessee 0 – 25-23, 25-18, 25-23
The Blue Raiders came up into a powerful start, taking the first two points of the match before Kenadee Coyle answered back with a kill on the right side. An Ashley Hood service ace later and the Tops held the one-point lead at the start. The two longtime rivals jumped back and forth on the board, leaving no greater margin than two points, until the Blue Raiders called three unanswered. A Paige Briggs kill got WKU back into scoring, before the two traded on the board. A solid 3-0 run including a kill from Lauren Matthews and stuff block with Matthews and setter Callie Bauer tied the match. WKU took the final three points to take the first set.
A drive into offense, the Hilltoppers ran five straight points to open the set with three back-to-back kills from Matthews. After an MTSU timeout, they called back with four straights of their own. Another run of four from WKU set the score 9-4 and wagered the Hilltoppers in the lead the rest of the frame. middle hitter katie isenbarger swooped across setter Callie Bauer to claim the 13th point on a kill. Later a service ace from Paige Briggs and another ball downed across the court by Kenadee Coyle sufficed another long 4-0 run for the Red and White. The two teams traded off until a misread by the Blue Raiders, solidified point 25 for WKU.
The two opponents found an even match to start the third and final frame on the afternoon. Back-to-back service errors for MTSU gave the ball back to WKU, where the Hilltoppers later exploded into a 3-0 run with kills from Coyle and Briggs, while also featuring one of two Briggs aces on the day. Hitting the largest gap on the afternoon, Middle Tennessee went on a 4-0 run to wager another 14-18 difference, to motion the Hilltoppers back in gear. A double block by Jennifer Rush and Paige Briggs and another kill put WKU within one, before MTSU called back. The final points for the Hilltoppers were off of solid kills, three from Lauren Matthewstwo off the hands of Paige Briggsand one from starter Jennifer Rushto claim the front line and the match.
The Hilltoppers are back in Diddle Arena on Friday, September 30 where they will take on the Panthers of Florida International at 6 pm CT.
- WKU used the lineup of Paige Briggs, Jennifer Rush, Lauren Matthews, katie isenbarger, Kenadee Coyle, Callie Bauer and Abby Schaefer at libero for the match. Senior Jennifer Rush earned her first career start down in Alumni Memorial Gym.
- In the series, WKU held the upper hand, 55-16 against Middle Tennessee.
- middle hitter Lauren Matthews added up to 16 kills on the day with a .448 hitting average to lead the Tops. Briggs tallied 14 kills on a .344 hitting percentage, followed by Jennifer Rush with .375 on eight attempts.
- Senior Paige Briggs carved up eight digs to bring her career total to an even 1,000. I release Abby Schaefer led the reception at 13 digs, followed by Ashley Hood with 12.
- The Hilltoppers now stand at 14-2 and undefeated in C-USA play.
- head coach Travis Hudson is now 707-220 across his career on the Hill.
- WKU Volleyball is now up to an all-time program record of 985-494 with Saturday’s victory.
How to Follow WKU Volleyball: For complete information on WKU Volleyball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUVolleyball and head coach Travis Hudson at @TravisHudsonWKU. The team is also on Instagram and Facebook.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism