Toppers Stun No. 15 Cards
Seniors Reedy, Lemke Lead WLU to Upset
WEST LIBERTY — The West Liberty University women’s volleyball team celebrated Senior Night in truly memorable fashion Friday with a 3-1 upset of No. 15 Wheeling in a mutual regular season finale.
The final home match for Senior Night honorees Renee Lemke and Emily Reedy will long be remembered as the first win for the Hilltoppers (7-3) against a nationally-ranked opponent in program history and only the second Mountain East Conference loss in program history for the visiting Cardinals (8-2).
West Liberty came from behind to pull out a 26-24 win in the opening set and never trailed in Set No. 2, coasting to a 25-19 win to go up 2-0.
The Cardinals briefly flexed their muscles with a late rush in the third set to stay alive with a 25-22 verdict but the Hilltoppers scored eight of the first 10 points in the fourth set and never stopped pulling away to clinch the historic win with a 25-13 triumph.
It was all about the defense for Coach Riley Schenk’s squad as they held Wheeling to a .146 hitting percentage. No less than six West Liberty players were charted with double-figure digs and the 115 digs posted by the Hilltoppers are the most by any NCAA Division II team in a four-set match this season.
There was plenty of offense on the WLU side of the ledger, as well. Nina Billotto had a team-high 14 kills and three blocks while hitting .333 and Maddie Clayton added 12 kills at a .417 hitting percentage to go along with 13 digs and a pair of blocks.
Freshman Kaija Sydlowski was also charted with 12 kills while Kirsten Bogunovich stuffed the stat sheet with seven kills, 28 assists and 10 digs. Freshman Nyia Setla led all players with a match-high 31 digs.
Both seniors played major roles in the victory on their special night. Lemke led WLU with 32 assists and a pair of service aces while also coming up with 15 digs. Reedy — who began her collegiate career at Wheeling before transferring to the hilltop — had a double-double with 12 kills and 26 digs.
Schenk was thrilled to see her seniors go out on such a high note.
“Renee has been such a fun setter to coach through the years,” Schenk said. “She has a high volleyball IQ and has grown so much as a player and a person. Her focused, calm presence really helps balance our team and she has been a great leader this year as one of our captains. She will be missed by myself and her teammates.
“Emily has also been a very enjoyable player to coach. She is super athletic with great fundamentals and a tremendous work ethic which helps her lead by example in games as well as practices. Our younger players definitely look up to her on the court and she has been a huge factor in the success of our program this season. She will be missed.”
The Hilltoppers return to action next week in the Mountain East Conference Tournament. Seeds, pairings and times will be announced this weekend.