WKU Volleyball: Lady Tops close out non-conference play with win over Cincinnati

Behind 17 Rachel Anderson kills, Lauren Matthews’ Diddle Arena debut and a solid all-around effort, WKU Volleyball defeated [RV] Cincinnati in four sets Tuesday night. The Lady Toppers improved to 9-5 with their second win over a team receiving votes this season while the Bearcats moved to 9-4.

“Great win; Diddle Magic,” head coach Travis Hudson opened. “Still at times, I thought it was a real struggle for us, I thought that was a match we should have closed out in the third. We just came out giving away points left and right. In game four, we were able to involve Lauren Matthews a little bit more in her first match out here, and you see what a difference maker she is. That’s something I’ve been saying since preseason, and it’s good to have her back out here, and certainly she made a difference.”

Anderson’s 17 strikes marked her third performance of 15+ kills on her senior season. She worked at a scorching .467 clip, taking just 30 swings.

“That was a real bounce-back match for Rachel,” Hudson stated. “She’s really been struggling, and to see her bounce back and play like she did was really nice as well.”

WKU Volleyball jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead to open play Tuesday night in Diddle Arena. With a slim 19-17 advantage, Hudson opted for a timeout to right the ship. Out of the break, the Lady Toppers closed the frame on a 6-2 run to claim a 25-19 first-set victory. The Red and White are now 8-1 when winning the opening frame of a match. WKU held Cincinnati to a .061 hitting clip while doubling the Bearcats’ digs 12-6.

Coming out the break, Cincinnati was the first to double digits with a 10-7 lead and pushed it to 13-10 soon after. At that point, Kayland Jackson found the floor for a kill and the first tally of a 6-0 run giving WKU a lead it would not relinquish. Set two saw seven ties and three lead changes as the Lady Toppers claimed a 25-23 victory. Anderson notched five kills in the frame as the Lady Toppers worked at a .370 offensive clip to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

Following the long break, Cincinnati made adjustments to create better opportunities for the reigning National Player of the Week, Jordan Thompson. The redshirt junior struck for nine of her 24 kills in the set to give the Bearcats a 25-22 set three victory and extend the match. For the second-straight set, the sides were knotted up seven times while the lead changed twice.

With neither side’s lead growing larger than two points through single digits on the scoreboard, WKU Volleyball was the first to double digits with the slightest of advantages at 10-9. That point – a kill by Lauren Matthews – was the first tally of a 4-0 run by the Lady Toppers. Following a UC sideout, WKU fired back with three more points for a 7-1 run for a 16-10 advantage. The Bearcats pulled back within three trailing 20-17 but WKU answered with four-straight kills – Matthews, Taylor Bebout, Matthews and Sophia Cerino. WKU closed the match with a block assist from Hallie Shelton and Matthews to secure the 25-18 victory and four-set win.

Shelton joined Anderson with double-digit kills on the night, registering 12. Cerino and Matthews each added seven. In her Diddle Arena debut, Matthews worked at a .429 clip while also adding two blocks in limited action.

“She’s a difference maker in so many ways, just her athleticism, I mean you see her flying around making plays, and she’s a very gifted young lady,” Coach Hudson said of Matthews. “As much as anything, I think it would allow some other players to just settle into a role that they are more suited for at the same time. I think, not only can she can she play, but she would elevate the people playing around her.”

“Playing in Diddle Arena for the first time was really a great experience,” Matthews shared. “Coming back from an injury is hard but I learned a lot while I was on the sidelines.”

Facilitating the offense from start to finish, Bebout racked up her fourth double-double performance of her redshirt-freshman season. The setter notched 40 assists along with 11 digs.

Payton Frederick led the defense with 14 kills while Shelton added nine, just one off from a double double.