Volleyball team faces WKU in quarterfinals

The Marshall University football team will not be the only Marshall athletic team attempting to keep its conference champion hopes alive against Western Kentucky University.

The eighth-seeded Marshall volleyball team will take on top-seeded Western Kentucky in the Conference USA Tournament quarterfinals 6 p.m. Friday in San Antonio, Texas.

Marshall earned the final spot in the tournament with its five-set comeback victory over Middle Tennessee State University Saturday.

Although the Herd was able to qualify for the conference tournament for the fourth consecutive season, it will face a difficult task in upsetting the Hilltoppers.

Western Kentucky, the defending conference champion, is ranked 21st in the country with an overall record of 28-3 this season, including a 15-1 conference mark.

The Hilltoppers, which have won 22 of its last 23 matches and five consecutive in straight sets, are led by a trio of All-Conference selections — Alyssa Cavanaugh, Noelle Langenkamp and Jessica Lucas.

Langenkamp leads the team with a .392 hitting percentage and ranks second on the team in kills 336, trailing only Cavanaugh with 353. Setting up those kill opportunities for Langenkamp and Cavanaugh has been Lucas who finished the regular season with 1,195 assists en route to being named setter of the year.

As a team, Western Kentucky ranks second in the conference in kills and assists and leads the conference in both hitting percentage and opponent hitting percentage.

The Herd, which is nestled in the middle of the conference rankings in each of the aforementioned statistical categories, will lean on the play of junior middle blocker Ally Kiekover and junior libero Allie Kellerman.

Kiekover was the lone member of the Herd named to the All-Conference First Team after leading the conference with a .405 efficiency.

In the team’s must-win match against Middle Tennesse, Kiekover recorded 18 kills with a .593 hitting percentage.

“Kiekover has been unflappable this season,” Marshall head coach Mitch Jacobs said. “This team has been all over the map when it comes to consistent play, but not Kiekover. This young woman shows up prepared to practice and competes hard every day. Combine that with talent, and she is truly maximizing her impact for the Herd.”

Kellerman, meanwhile, broke the program record for digs in a season with 538.

In addition to the duo’s excellence on the court, the two also performed in the classroom as both were named to the All-Conference USA All-Academic Team.

The Herd faced the Hilltoppers twice earlier this season losing both times. Marshall lost 3-1 In Huntington Sept. 23 and 3-0 in Bowling Green, Kentucky Nov. 12.

If the Herd is able to pull off the upset, it will play 2:30 p.m. Saturday with a chance to earn a spot in the conference championship game.