WKU Volleyball: Lady Tops haul in C-USA Coach, Freshman, Setter, and Player of the Year awards
DALLAS – Awards continue to roll in for WKU Volleyball as the squad collected four of Conference USA’s six superlative honors for the 2019 season. The Lady Toppers’ trio of first team All-Conference selections all went on to earn individual awards as Paige Briggs was selected as the Freshman of the Year, Nadia Dieudonne earned Setter of the Year recognition and Lauren Matthews brought home Player of the Year honors. Leading the program to one of its best seasons yet, Travis Hudson was voted as the league’s Coach of the Year.
WKU is the first team in Conference USA history to win four superlative awards in the same season.
The mastermind behind the No. 19-ranked Lady Topper squad, Hudson, collected the C-USA Coach of the Year award for the third time in six years in the league. He now owns eight conference Coach of the Year laurels across his 25 seasons at the helm. After the team was predicted to finish third in the league’s preseason poll, Hudson led WKU to a 28-1 regular season record and perfect 14-0 record in C-USA contests as the Tops won their fifth championship in six years.
Two of the three WKU student-athletes to earn superlative awards are in their first season as a Lady Topper.
Briggs, Conference USA’s 2019 Freshman of the Year, made an immediate impact for the Lady Toppers and made her presence felt on the conference scene as well, claiming three of the first four Freshman of the Week accolades. She went on to finish the season even stronger, winning four of the final five honors. The Ortonville, Mich., native posted 14 double-double performances across the season, including one at both No. 17 Rice and No. 24 Louisville. Briggs started all 99 sets for the Tops this season as a six-rotation player and racked up 326 kills and 305 digs across the season while working at a .290 hitting clip. In C-USA matches only, the rookie operated at a .312 hitting clip with 156 kills and 124 digs.
Also in her first season as a Lady Topper, junior setter Dieudonne was named the C-USA Setter of the Year. Before her first team All-Conference honor a day prior, the Louisville, Ky., native had not earned a collegiate postseason honor. Dieudonne racked up eight double doubles for WKU including the rare 20-20 feat in her first-ever match as a Lady Topper. Throughout the regular season, the offensive facilitator earned half of C-USA’s Setter of the Week awards with six honors. Dieudonne led the squad to a collective .299 hitting percentage on the season, which ranks third in all of NCAA. Dieudonne registered 1,085 assists through the regular season along with 230 digs, 81 kills and 36 block assists – all of which are career highs for the junior. The Louisville, Ky., native averaged 10.96 assists per set overall and climbs to 11.28 per set in Conference USA matches.
In just her second season on The Hill, Matthews was selected as the Conference USA Player of the Year. The Indianapolis, Ind., native spent nearly a month leading all of NCAA Volleyball in hitting percentage and ranks second with a .454 clip entering the postseason. Throughout the course of the season, Matthews earned four of the league’s Offensive Player of the Week honors in addition to setting WKU’s single-match hitting percentage record at .882. In league matches, Matthews worked at a scorching .483 mark. The sophomore posted 399 kills throughout the regular season with 205 coming in C-USA matches. Matthews has also been a force to be reckoned with at the net defensively, tallying 119 blocks for a 1.20 blocks per set average this season. She owns 32 solo blocks (10th on WKU’s single season list) and 87 block assists.
Briggs is the third freshman in WKU history to earn C-USA Freshman of the Year honors, joining Alyssa Cavanaugh (2014) and Rachel Anderson (2015). Dieudonne collects the fourth C-USA Setter of the Year honor for the Tops, joining Jessica Lucas – a three-time honoree (2015, ’16, ’17). Matthews marks the second Lady Topper to earn C-USA’s Player of the Year nod, and the third overall selection as Cavanaugh won the award in both 2016 and ’17. The 2019 awards mark the third time in program history that WKU has had both the Player of the Year and Setter of the Year in the same season.
WKU Volleyball spent the final six weeks of the regular season ranked in the AVCA Coaches Poll after receiving votes for four weeks. The Lady Toppers posted the best regular season win percentage in program history with a 28-1 record (.966) – leading the nation in both wins and win percentage – as well as sweeps with 20. Entering the postseason, WKU rides a 24-match win streak that dates back to its loss at No. 24 Louisville on Sept. 6. The Lady Toppers claimed the C-USA regular season championship for the fifth time in six seasons in the league, posting a perfect 14-0 record.
2019 CONFERENCE USA SUPERLATIVE AWARDS
Player of the Year
Lauren Matthews, WKU
Setter of the Year
Nadia Dieudonne, WKU
Libero of the Year
Yumi Garcia, Charlotte
Defensive Player of the Year
Zuri Smith, Florida Atlantic
Freshman of the Year
Paige Briggs, WKU
Coach of the Year
Travis Hudson, WKU