BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AStateRedWolves.com) – The No. 5 Arkansas State volleyball team was eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference tournament Friday night with a 25-19, 25-11, 25-15 loss to No. 1 Western Kentucky.
Marie Hadar led A-State (19-14) with eight kills and .353 attacking percentage, while Kelsey Sullivan added seven kills and Jasmine Terry finished with six. Junior libero Megan Baska finished with 14 digs and senior setter Allison Kearney dished out 26 assists.
"Western Kentucky was better than we were tonight and they are better than a lot of teams in the country which is why they are ranked in the top-20," ASU head coach David Rehr said. "They did a really good job of adjusting to us tonight and in the end we just couldn't fight through."
ASU kept pace with the Lady Toppers (31-3) throughout the early part of the first set and held a 10-9 edge early on. However, WKU went on a 6-1 run to take a 15-11 lead and following an ASU timeout, Western Kentucky pushed the lead to 20-15 before going on to a six point victory.
ASU struggled to recover from the first set loss and fell behind 20-10 in the second set. A-State was efficient when it had attacking opportunities and committed just six errors in the set. However, the Red Wolves had a side out percentage of just 40 percent and could not find an answer for the WKU attack.
In the third set, the Lady Toppers jumped out a 15-10 edge and pushed the lead to 20-12 later on. ASU continued to have troubles getting back on serve, and Western Kentucky seized opportunities by finding open spots in the ASU defense for a 25-15 victory.
"There was learning curve for both the players and me this season," Rehr said. "The only goal we didn't accomplish was getting to 20 wins and we fell one short of that. Getting the win in the tournament was definitely a goal but unfortunately we just ran into a buzz saw against Western Kentucky."
The championship game will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday and will feature the third-seeded North Texas and top-seeded Western Kentucky in a nationally televised championship match on ESPN3. The winner will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.