Matthews Named Player of the Year in Back-to-Back Campaigns; Six Hilltoppers Earn Season Recognition
DALLAS, Texas – WKU Volleyball saw seven different Hilltoppers honored on Thursday as Conference USA announced its All-Conference teams, All-Freshman Team and superlative awards.
- Matthews – Alyssa Cavanaugh Player of the Year, 1st Team All-Conference
- Hudson – Coach of the Year
- Bauer – Freshman of the Year, 1st Team All-Conference, All-Freshman Team
- Briggs – 1st Team All-Conference
- Isenbarger – 2nd Team All-Conference
- Schaefer – All-Freshman Team
The nation’s hitting percentage leader last season, Matthews has worked at a .400 efficiency this season while striking for 389 kills and 107 total blocks this season for averages of 4.14 and 1.14 per set, respectively. The Indianapolis, Ind., native started every set for the Hilltoppers in the middle this season. Named the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year, she collected two C-USA Offensive Player of the Week honors as well as two Defensive Player of the Week honors. Matthews is now the leading blocker with 524 blocks throughout her career on The Hill, as well as ranking third in total kills (1,804) in the Red and White.
Coach Hudson’s recognition marks his fifth Conference USA Coach of the Year honor in WKU’s nine seasons as a league member. He also earned the honor in 2015, ’16, ’19, and fall of 2021. During the Sun Belt era, Hudson collected five more Coach of the Year accolades to bring his total to nine. The 28th year head coach marked his 700th career win against Northern Kentucky on September 8. He is only the tenth active head coach to have reached the milestone, and only one of four to do it at the same institution.
A redshirt-freshman setter in her first true season starting for the Tops, Bauer has now earned her first C-USA Freshman of the Year, First Team All-Conference, and Conference Freshman Team honors after facilitating the third-best offense in the country to a .317 hitting percentage. The six-rotation setter started all 94 sets this season and averaged 10.99 assists per set, which leads C-USA and ranks sixteenth in NCAA Volleyball. Bauer has racked up 1,033 assists, despite the Hilltoppers sweeping 18 of 28 matches this season. She’s added 1.84 digs per set, 50 blocks, 78 kills, and 21 aces this season. Bauer earned three Setter of the Week honors this season, including a Co-Freshman of the Week nod in the final week of the regular season.
Collecting her fourth-straight honor with her four years of eligibility, Briggs is hitting .335 on the year with 354 kills (3.77 per set) and 225 digs (2.39 per set). She added 47 blocks and 34 aces as well. Across 28 matches, Briggs tallied four double-doubles. A primary passer for the Hilltoppers, the Ortonville, Mich., native recorded just 20 receive errors in 452 attempts for a 95.6 reception rate this season. The six-rotation outsider hitter was awarded the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week twice this season and racked up 20 double-digit kill outings along with eight double-digit dig efforts this season.
Isenbarger was named Second Team All-Conference for the fourth-consecutive season with Thursday’s awards. She’s appeared in all 94 sets this season while operating at a .338 hitting percentage and averaging 1.14 blocks per set. Isenbarger, a native of Zionsville, Ind., racked up 135 kills this season with 1.45 kills per set to go along with 106 total blocks. From the service line, the senior middle hitter has struck for 18 aces and recorded 57 digs. She’s tallied nine matches with a hitting clip of .300 or better entering the postseason, including a perfect .700 hitting clip with no errors against FAU in November.
A true freshman that has been the emergency back-up libero in the Hilltoppers’ starting lineup all season, Schaefer, along with Bauer, has become WKU’s first All-Freshman team honoree since Katie Howard in 2021 and Briggs in 2019. The Walton, Ky., native has appeared in all 94 sets tallying 273 digs with an average of 2.90 digs per set this season. She’s picked up 54 assists, recieved in 13 double-digit dig matches, and vouched for 23 aces at the service line in her debut campaign.
Earlier this week, Bauer, Isenbarger and Briggs were all named to Conference USA’s 11-player All-Academic Team. Bauer, a redshirt-freshman earned her first nod while studying marketing, Isenbarger, a graduate student earning her MBA in recreation and sport administration, collected her second. Briggs, a senior majoring in visual studies, has earned the recognition three times in her career.