CINCINNATI, Ohio-Using a season-high 10 service aces, the Western Kentucky University volleyball team (6-2) defeated Cincinnati (1-6) by a score of 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 25-15) on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Arena.
The victory marked the first time since 2002 that WKU defeated the Bearcats, as Cincinnati took the win in the last 11 matches, including two NCAA tournament appearances. It is the second time that WKU head coach Travis Hudson added to the win column against the team but first in Cincinnati, as the win in 2002 came in Bowling Green.
Freshman Rachel Engle led the team at the service line after tallying a season-high four service aces to go along with her 10 digs. Senior Sarah Rogers added three aces while senior Jordyn Skinner and junior Melanie Stutsman have now hit an ace in the past four games after grabbing two and one, respectively, against Cincinnati.
Three Lady Toppers hit over .400 in the match, as junior Janee' Diggins tied for a match-high .458 hitting mark after posting 12 kills on 24 attempts with one error. Skinner tabbed 19 kills and hit at a .436 clip while redshirt junior Paige Wessel hit .438 with nine kills.
Cincinnati ended the match with three in double-digit figures for kills, as Jordanne Scott led the team with 18. Emily Hayden added 13 while Becca Refenes posted 12 kills.
After exchanging points to open the contest, WKU took hold of a 9-7 lead in the first set after a Stutsman ace and freshman Noelle Langenkamp block. The Lady Toppers continued to extend the advantage to 14-8 with a 5-0 run that included back-to-back aces from Skinner. Getting a deficit as large at seven at 19-12, Cincinnati tried climbing back and got within three at 22-19, but WKU capped the first set with a trio of kills from Wessel, sophomore Heather Boyan and Diggins to take it 25-19.
Similar to the first set, the teams stayed close in the beginning of the second frame before seven-straight points for Cincinnati pulled the team ahead 14-7. WKU responded with a 7-3 run of its own that closed the gap at 18-16 in favor of the home team. The Lady Toppers stayed within two or three points late in the set, but Cincinnati sealed the win at 25-22.
Out of the break, set three brought four tied scores before WKU took early control of the contest to jump in front 10-6 thanks to kills from four different Lady Toppers and an ace from Engle. After being tied on five different occasions, including knotted at 20, WKU worked out a 5-1 scoring spree sparked by a Boyan and Wessel block to close the frame at 25-21.
Cincinnati came out of the gates of the fourth set to nab a 2-0 lead; however, it was a short advantage for the Bearcats, as WKU took its first lead at 4-3 after a Boyan block and continued on a 10-1 run that contained three aces from Rogers to go up 14-5. The Lady Toppers stayed in control the rest of the set on its way to a 25-15 win, as they ended the set hitting .375 with 12 kills.WKU returns home this weekend to host its annual tournament featuring No. 10 Dayton, No. 26 Ohio State, IUPUI and Tennessee Tech. The Lady Toppers open on Friday, September 7 against Tennessee Tech at 1 p.m. CT and Dayton at 7 p.m. CT before finishing the tournament on Saturday, September 8 against Ohio State at 12:30 p.m. CT and IUPUI at 5:30 p.m. CT.