Lady Toppers finish their season with a record of 21-13

In the MEC tournament hosted at West Virginia State University, West Liberty swept Davis and Elkins in the quarter-finals before falling to Wheeling in the semi-final match. The Wheeling loss ended the Lady Toppers’ fall 2021 season with a record of 21-13.

The Hilltoppers beat the 14-14 Davis and Elkins College 25-20, 25-18 and 25-13 on Thursday at noon. In her last year of eligibility, graduate student Madison Clayton, led her team to victory over the Senators with team high kills, blocks and aces at 12, five and four respectively. Another middle, Ruby Countryman, turned right side showing out with a .429 hitting percentage and seven kills, the third highest kills on the team, behind Kirsten Bogunovich who had nine kills. Bogunovich also led the team in assists with 23 assists and was followed by freshman Haley Zeck with 14. A second team all-MEC pick, Nyia Setla, led the team with 18 digs, followed by Katelynn Fritz with 11 and Laura Gamel with 10.

Head coach Riley Schenk shared her thoughts on the Davis and Elkins match. “It was a good game focusing on our side of the net, and playing West Liberty volleyball,” said Schenk.

After Davis and Elkins, the Hilltoppers were to face Wheeling University at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening. This was a rollercoaster of a match with Wheeling confidently taking the first two sets 25-19 and 25-18. However, West Liberty bounced back in the third set, beating the Cardinals 25-14. The fourth set was an absolute nail biter with long rallies and close scores. Outside hitter Riley Cudnik said that the team tried to focus on “one point at a time,” with coaches and teammates alike encouraging one another to play at their highest potential. Unfortunately, Wheeling came out on top in that fourth set with a 26-24 set score. Wheeling moved on to the finals where they eventually beat West Virginia State University on Saturday evening for the tournament title.

About the Wheeling loss, Schenk said, “we went into Wheeling with no fear. We knew it was a tough matchup, [and] at the end of the day, Wheeling’s experience showed over ours. We made too many unforced errors on our side of the net, and our youth showed.”

MEC all-freshman team pick and all-tournament team pick, Riley Cudnik, had an incredible game against Wheeling. Cudnik was a force to be reckoned with at the net, obtaining the match high of 21 kills. Cudnik was followed by Clayton and Bogunovich with 11 kills each. Bogunovich, an all-MEC honorable mention, also led the team in assists, racking up 29 assists which was closely followed by Zeck with 23 assists. Clayton led the team again in blocks and aces with four and three respectively. Setla amassed 21 digs with Bogunovich and Fritz following at 18 and 12 respectively.

Cudnik described the atmosphere like this, “the energy was very competitive in the gym and on the court at the tournament. We were all feeding off of each other’s high energy.” She explained how memorable the weekend was when she said, “it was so much fun to get to play and hangout with my teammates for one last time this season.”

As Schenk reflects on the season, she said, “overall we had a great fall [season]. We had some really big wins that helped us to be regionally ranked which is tough to do in the Atlantic region with the high level teams. I am very excited for this group moving forward, and we will miss our seniors Maddie [Madison Clayton] and Mack [MacKenzie Daub].”