MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The Bowling Green State University volleyball team got off to the type of start it wanted to, but Northwestern recovered and rallied to beat the Falcons 21-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-19 at the Marquette Challenge Saturday evening.
Bowling Green held Northwestern to a .000 attack percentage in the first set and the Falcons led from the start to win the opening set. Danielle Tonyan had five of her match-high 19 kills in that opening frame and Lindsey Butterfield added four with a .500 attack percentage.
But from there, Northwestern improved its attack percentage in every set and the Falcons were not able to reach the .242 mark it hit in the first frame. On top of that, Bowling Green had too many unforced errors throughout the match to be able to make the quick start hold up. The Falcons had 13 service errors and gave up eight Northwestern aces.
Despite those issues, the Falcons almost went ahead by two sets after rallying late in the second. Trailing 22-19, Bowling Green got a Paige Penrod kill, followed by two Northwestern attack errors to tie the score. Kaitlyn Skinner and Tonyan combined on a block and, after a Northwestern point, Tonyan had a kill to give the Falcons a set point at 24-23. The Wildcats staved off the Falcon opportunity, though, with a kill and eventually got a kill and block from Yewande Akanbi to even the match up.
In a pivotal third set, Tonyan had four kills and two aces early but Northwestern built a 19-16 lead. Penrod had back-to-back kills, while Tonyan and Skinner followed with a block to tie the score. But Northwestern closed on a 6-1 run to take control of the match.
In the fourth, Bowling Green fell behind by as many as 10 points before rallying late. But the Falcons got no closer than within five points late as the Wildcats closed out the match.
"We are disappointed with this loss because we had a chance to earn our first win of the season," head coach Danijela Tomic said. "Volleyball is a game of momentum and when you don't use the chances that your opponent gives you, it is hard to win. We will watch and analyze the video of both matches this weekend and get back in the gym Monday to work on things we need to improve. We will use this loss as a learning opportunity to get better for our next match."
Tonyan had her second consecutive double-double with 10 digs to go with her 19 kills. Penrod also posted a double-double with 13 kills, 11 digs and six blocks. Skinner had a career-high seven blocks and Ashley Dunn added 23 digs, her 21st consecutive match with at least 10.
Bowling Green falls to 0-2 on the season and will be off until competing in the Indiana Invitational next weekend. The Falcons will face Georgia Tech Friday night before playing Indiana and Cleveland State Saturday.