Western Kentucky University Athletics

BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky – With their 17th straight win, the one-seeded, national No. 20 Hilltoppers won the North Texas Mean Green at Diddle Arena Saturday afternoon for the first of two semifinal games of the 2022 Conference USA Volleyball Tournament. A powerful hitting duo of middle hitters Lauren Matthews and Katie Isenbarger rode as a team in WKU’s best hitting clip of the season, a .494 wedge.

“It was an incredibly good performance today. It was an incredibly good team from North Texas and we have a lot of respect for it,” said the head coach Travis Hudson after the game. “We played really well. That’s the kind of accomplishment you want at this time of year, you want your seniors to be up to the task at moments like this and certainly both of those [Lauren Matthews and Katie Isenbarger] did today.”

The Hilltoppers took on every category on the stat sheet and slipped through the first set with just one hitting error, collecting seven aces from line five’s collective blocks and a total of 49 kills. Matthews hit her highest singles percentage of the season, driving 22 kills from 27 swings, good for a .778 clip and one miss.


WKU 3, NORTH TEXAS 0 – 25-14, 25-16, 25-19
SET 1
North Texas was the first to get on the board until Lauren Matthews replied quickly, placing one just outside of range of Mean Green’s front line, not what was their first kill of the afternoon. Matthews eventually gave the tops their first lead of the set and picked up their second kill at a three-point mark. The first ace of the game came from the hand of Abby Shepherd to give WKU a two-point lead. Katie Isenbarger went on offense and hit one in the middle to give the tops a 9-5 lead. North Texas tried to take the lead, but after a long rally that got the defenders going, Matthews shot one into no man’s land to give WKU a 13-9 lead. The tops later took seven of the next ten points. The Tops tightened their grip in the first set, breaking 20 and taking a nine-point lead after Mean Green sent a long 21-12 lead. After WKU took a 24-13 lead, their largest of the set, North Texas recorded a kill that briefly lengthened the frame but a Kennedy Coyle kill from the right that was assisted Callie Bauer Put a wrap on the first set.

SET 2
Lauren Matthews started the drive for the Hilltoppers with their sixth kill of the match. North Texas fired back and later scored two kills of their own. Isenbarger recorded a kill and picked up a block in a back-to-back series to give the tops a 6-3 advantage. An ace out Callie Bauer and Mean Green called the first timeout of the game with WKU leading, 10-4. After the break, North Texas extended the lead to four and picked up two quick points. The Tops quickly regained the six-point lead, partially taking the frame’s greatest lead to a kill from the right side Kenadee Coyle. A North Texas ace cut the lead to five, but back to back Lauren Matthews Kills forced Mean Green to call her second and final timeout of the set while WKU led us 18-11. back in the game Katie Howard served her first ace and fifth hilltopper ace of the game with a 19-11 advantage. Back-to-back kills from Matthews increased the lead to 11 save for the mean green. A 5-1 run against North Texas late in the frame saw the Hilltoppers reset. It was consecutive errors from Mean Green and the Hilltoppers took the set to take a 2-0 lead.

SET 3
Then came the third sentence Katie Isenbarger dished up an ace, her first of the game. Katie Howard then served up her second ace of the day to give the tops an early 4-2 lead. An attacking error by the Hilltoppers cut the lead to one and led 7-6. The Mean Green equalized the set at seven, but Isenbarger’s eighth kill of the match returned the lead to the Red-Whites. Lauren Matthews The 18th kill as well as an .818 hitting clip of the match resulted in the tops scoring ten points first, followed by two points. a mean green timeout, Katie Isenbarger stuffed her fifth block of the day for a 15-10 hilltopper advantage. The Mean Green reduced the deficit to four, but the tops responded quickly with three straight kills Katie Isenbarger and Kenadee Coyle for a 19-12 lead. A kill in North Texas earned them the highest score of the day as WKU was still ahead by four. A successful challenge from the Hilltoppers and a kill from Matthews later gave WKU a 23-17 lead. Matthews fired off her 22nd kill of the match, bringing the tops to the set point, not until a mean green point slowed the energy. Paige Briggs loop onto the frame from the left and pass as the Hilltoppers head towards the championship game.

NEXT
For the fourth consecutive year, Western Kentucky will play the winner of the Rice vs. UTEP duel on Sunday, November 20 at 1:00 PM CT. The match can be streamed on ESPN+.


AFTER-GAME NOTES

  • WKU used the list from Paige Briggs, Katie Howard, Lauren Matthews, Katie Isenbarger, Kenadee Coyle, Callie Bauerand Abby Shepherd. This is the 29th time Coach Hudson has used the combination this season.
  • In the series, WKU won’t hold the 24-3 advantage over the North Texas Mean Green when they leave the conference next season.
  • C-USA Freshman of the Year Setter Callie Bauer provided 42 assists at net and an ace from the service line.
  • Overall, the WKU has reached its peak as a team this season. The Hilltoppers got 49 kills from 87 swings, good for a .494 hitting clip.
  • center hitter Lauren Matthews Lead the way for the reds and whites on the line and amassed 22 kills and a .778 punch clip in the fifth year in the afternoon Katie Isenbarger followed with 13 kills, no errors, and a rate of .684.
  • The Hilltoppers are now 28-2, 2-0 in the postseason.
  • head coach Travis Hudson is now 721-220 throughout his career on the hill.
  • WKU Volleyball has now achieved a program record of 999-494.

How to follow WKU Volleyball: For complete information on WKU Volleyball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUVolleyball and head coach Travis Hudson at @TravisHudsonWKU. The team is also on Instagram and Facebook.

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