(18) WKU Volleyball Racks Up Postseason Awards

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. No. 18 WKU Volleyball hauled in six total AVCA South All-Region accolades the organization announced Tuesday. Paige Briggs earned Region Player of the Year honors while Travis Hudson earned the seventh Region Coach of the Year award of his career. Briggs, Nadia Dieudonne, Lauren Matthews and Katie Isenbarger were tabbed First Team All-Region while Kayland Jackson earned Honorable Mention status.

This crew helped the Hilltoppers earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament with a perfecto 21-0 record while winning Conference USA regular season and tournament championships along the way. WKU has gone 63-4 in sets this season.

While the Hilltoppers saw four of their own earn All-Conference USA honors, they would not collect any superlative awards from the league.

Briggs, a native of Ortonville, Mich., has turned in a stellar sophomore campaign after being tabbed the Region and C-USA Freshman of the Year in 2019. This season as a six-rotation player that’s started all 67 sets, the outside hitter has recorded a .344 hitting percentage with 3.70 kills/set and 3.61 digs/set. Briggs has tallied 12 double doubles despite the team’s 17 sweeps this season while also owning a 98 percent success rate in serve-receive with just five errors on 251 attempts. Accomplished off the court as well, the sophomore was also selected to the C-USA Volleyball All-Academic Team.

In his 26th season at the helm of WKU Volleyball, Hudson has been the fearless leader of the exceptional Hilltopper squad. WKU is set to compete in its 13th NCAA Tournament in program history this season after the Tops navigated the COVID-19 pandemic to produce a perfect 21-0 start. Hudson’s crew is one of just two in the nation to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive hitting percentage across all of NCAA Volleyball.

In her second year as a Hilltopper, Dieudonne has now earned as many All-Region nods from the AVCA. A six-rotation setter, she has led the Hilltoppers to the second-best hitting percentage in the country with a .355 rate while averaging 12.00 assists/set, which also ranks second in the NCAA. Also a Senior CLASS Award finalist – the third in program history – Dieudonne earned half the C-USA Setter of the Week honors distributed this season, five.

Coming off her second-straight Conference USA Tournament MVP selection, Matthews has been tabbed an All-Region player. The 2019 AVCA South Region Player of the Year, Matthews has arguably put up a more impressive campaign in 2020-21 with more eyes and attention on her. Starting all 67 sets for the Tops this season, the Indianapolis, Ind., native is hitting a scorching .451 mark with 266 kills. As if that isn’t enough, Matthews doubles it with 1.30 blocks/set and 87 total stuffs – including 27 solo, the second most in the NCAA this season. The middle hitter has tallied 16 double-digit kill outings and nine matches with five or more blocks during her junior campaign.

Briggs, Dieudonne and Matthews each tallied their second All-Region nods in as many seasons.

Earning the first All-Region recognition of her career was Isenbarger. The middle hitter was also tabbed a Second Team All-Conference selection prior to the C-USA Tournament, the first honor of the sort for her in volleyball. Isenbarger has racked up a .413 hitting percentage, which ranks third in C-USA and top-20 in the NCAA. The Zionsville, Ind., native is averaging 0.81 blocks/set to go along with 1.97 kills/set. Isenbarger has registered multiple blocks in 18-of-21 matches this season and also owns a 94.8 percent success rate from the service line for the Tops.

After being left off the All-Conference lists, Jackson has earned AVCA All-Region honorable mention recognition for the first time in her career. The Indianapolis, Ind., native owns a .366 hitting percentage from the right side for WKU this season and has averaged 2.26 kills/set along with 0.52 blocks/set.

The Hilltoppers’ efforts and dedication on and off the court this season secured the squad a spot in the 48-team NCAA Tournament Bubble in Omaha, Neb. WKU will face Jackson State in the First Round on Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. CT.