TROY, Ala. – Behind a raucous Trojan Arena crowd, the Troy volleyball team upset WKU in the Sun Belt Championships on Thursday night in a sweep, 3-0 (26-24, 27-25, 28-26). Troy, the tournament’s eighth seed, moves on to face fourth-seeded UT Arlington in Friday’s semifinals at 6:30 p.m.
Troy (13-20) won all of the pivotal points as an eighth seed beat a top seed for the first time since the tournament moved to an eight-team format in 2002. Troy’s sweep of the regular season champion Lady Toppers was the first win over WKU in program history. In 21 previous tries, Troy had won just one set.
“This was the biggest win in program history,” Troy head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick said. “The crowd was phenomenal. They picked us up and lifted us up. Without them it would have been so much more difficult. They kept feeding us all night and it was a great atmosphere to be a part of.”
WKU (27-6) was swept for the first time since last season’s NCAA Tournament when second-ranked Stanford did so. The Troy win guarantees a new Sun Belt champion after WKU had won the last two Sun Belt Championships.
Marija Zelenovic led the Trojans with 16 kills while Kayla Pickart had 13 for a Troy team that hit .252 on the match. The Trojans held WKU, who entered hitting .315 as team, to a .222 attack percentage. The Trojans tied a season high with 13.0 blocks, led by Darby Griff’s seven.
Alexandra Alexander posted 37 assists, including a huge play with Troy up 21-20. Alexander crashed into the scorer’s table to save a ball that led to a Zelenovic kill and 22-20 Troy lead.
The Trojans fought off two set points after that at 25-24 and 26-25 before scoring three straight to lead to the crowd spilling on the court in celebration.
The win snapped an 11-match winning streak for WKU and gave Troy wins in four of its last five matches. WKU was led by Paige Wessel who hit .857 with 12 kills on 14 attack attempts. Haley Bodway had 14 kills while Sun Belt Setter of the Year Melanie Stutsman had 40 assists. Defensive Player of the Year Ashley Potts had 13 digs to lead all players.
Troy came up late in each of the first two sets, winning three straight to close a 26-24 first set that let Trojan Arena know the upset was in the making.
With its back against the wall, trailing 24-21 in the second set, Troy fought off three set points and scored six of seven to win 27-25 and take a 2-0 lead into the break.
The Trojans now face UT Arlington in Friday’s semifinals. The Mavericks swept South Alabama on Thursday. Troy and UTA split their two regular season matches, with each home team winning in five sets.
Admission to Friday’s match is FREE for students. General admission tickets are available with $10 tournament passes and $5 single-day passes.