NORFOLK, Va. – For the seventh time in the last eight seasons, WKU Volleyball won the Conference USA Tournament. Five of those victories have come over Rice, including Sunday’s four-set win. The Hilltoppers and Owls have met in the championship match in each of the last three seasons, with WKU coming out on top in all three.
“Man what do you say,” began head coach Travis Hudson. “I say this over and over and over again; this is not about me, but I’m in the presence of a really special group of student athletes. To see how many times they’ve persevered in so many kinds of situations and settings, it’s a special, special time for our program and I’m trying to enjoy every second of it.”
No. 18 WKU Volleyball climbs to 27-1 on the season including 20-consecutive wins with Sunday’s championship victory. The Hilltoppers are now 21-1 all-time in the Conference USA Tournament, including nine-straight wins in the postseason event.
[RV] Rice is now 19-6 on the season with the loss. The Owls are also expected to join the Hilltoppers in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s been fun playing against them every year,” shared Matthews. “It’s a tough matchup no matter what.”
Lauren Matthews earned Tournament MVP honors for the third straight season. Paige Briggs, Nadia Dieudonne and Kayland Jackson all earned All-Tournament Team honors as well.
“We did, we just kept playing. There is no panic in our team, there’s just none. It’s because of the kids on the court and the leadership. Lauren Matthews after that first game and Lauren gets that look to her and she’s got this determination and it’s like get out of her way. You think Rice didn’t know the ball was going to go to Lauren Matthews as she had 21 kills. Really unique and special team and there’s a lot of love in that locker room.
WKU vs. [RV] Rice – 16-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-20
WKU dropped the opening set of a match for just the fifth time this season as the Owls earned the 25-16 win for a 1-0 lead in the match. The division champs traded the first 10 point of the match out to a 5-5 tie before Rice pulled ahead for good.
“And through just getting it handed to us in the first set,” continued Hudson. “How many teams go away in a tournament setting when they get beat 25-26 in the first set? These kids are just different and I’m a lucky man to be coaching them.”
WKU Volleyball will learn where it’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament takes them on Sunday, November 28, when the NCAA Selection Show takes place.
Stayed tuned to WKU Volleyball’s outlets for more information about the Hilltoppers’ selection show watch party.
WKU used the lineup of Paige Briggs, Avri Davis, Lauren Matthews, Katie Isenbarger, Kayland Jackson, Nadia Dieudonne and Logan Kael at libero for the 12th time this season. This was the Hilltopper lineup to start the season and the group owns an 11-1 record. The Hilltoppers are now 9-3 all-time against Rice and 9-2 since joining Conference USA in 2014. WKU and Rice have faced off in each of the last three C-USA Tournament Championship matches and five times total since the 2014 campaign. With the win, the Hilltoppers improve to 27-1 (12-0 C-USA) on the season, winning their last 20 matches. WKU is now 21-1 all-time in the Conference USA Tournament. That record breaks down to 65-17 by set. The Hilltoppers have won their last nine C-USA Tournament matches. Hallie Shelton struck for another ace to bring her career total to 184. She continues to close in on the program record of 206 held by Lindsey Gould. With 23 kills on the day, Lauren Matthews remains in eighth on WKU’s career kills list and now owns 1,390. With the day’s results, head coach Travis Hudson is now 692-217 across his career. WKU Volleyball is now up to an all-time program record of 970-492 with Sunday’s win.