BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green's tough pre-conference slate continues this weekend as the Falcons head West to play in the BYU Nike Invitational Friday and Saturday. BGSU will face Portland State Friday, before playing No. 21 BYU and Utah Saturday. Portland State is 3-3 but the Vikings have a three-set sweep over MAC school Northern Illinois on their record. BYU is 6-0, climbed into the AVCA Top 25, and had two wins this weekend over teams ranked in the top 25. Utah enters with a strong 6-2 mark on the season.
ABOUT PORTLAND STATE
Portland State has opened the season with a 3-3 record after competing in tournaments in the states of Washington and California. The Vikings did face a Mid-American Conference team, sweeping defending MAC Champion Northern Illinois in three sets. Portland State was picked to finish second in the Big Sky Conference and went 18-13 a year ago. The Vikings have dug well thus far with sophomore libero Kasimira Clark leading the way with 5.00 digs per set. Offensively, junior outside hitter Jaklyn Wheeler, an Oregon transfer, is averaging 4.14 kills per set and senior outside hitter Megan Ellis is at 3.41 kills per set. Head coach Michael Seemann is 86-37 in his fifth season leading Portland State.
BYU is off to one of the best starts in the country with a record of 6-0, including four-set wins over No. 14 Tennessee and No. 24 Colorado State. That start has helped the Cougars to move into the AVCA Top 25 at No. 21 in the country. BYU was only picked to finish fourth in the West Coast Conference, but junior opposite Jennifer Hamson, at a towering 6-foot-7, was named to the preseason All-WCC Team. She has not disappointed, averaging 4.45 kills per set and hitting at a .386 clip. As a team, BYU is averaging almost three blocks per set and freshman libero Ciara Parker has averaged 5.09 digs per set thus far. Head coach Shawn Olmstead is in his second season at the helm with a career mark of 27-9.
Utah is 6-2 on the season but lost 2-of-3 matches during the past weekend at the UC Davis Aggie Invitational. The Utes were picked to finish tenth in one of the toughest conferences in the country, the Pac-12. Utah has held opponents to just .120 hitting behind 3.2 blocks per set. Three different players are averaging at least a block per set, led by 6-foot sophomore middle blocker Bailey Bateman. Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield leads the team with 3.82 kills per set but is only hitting .188 on the season. Head coach Beth Launiere is 447-260 in her 23rd year at Utah.
FOLLOWING THE FALCONS
If you can't be at the tournament this weekend, live stats will be available via links at BGSUFalcons.com. Fans can also keep up with the action on Twitter by following @BGAthletics and @jknavel.
TURN THE DIAL
The Bowling Green Radio Sports Organization (BGRSO) will provide a radio broadcast of all BGSU volleyball home matches this season, which will also be available on the web via live streaming. Follow links at BGSUFalcons.com to listen on the web.
ON THE TUBE
BGSU's intersquad scrimmage was televised via tape-delay by the Buckeye Cable Sports Network (BCSN), broadcasting to the greater Toledo area. BCSN will also televise the Falcons' Sept. 22 match against Kent State. More information about BCSN is available online at www.bcsn.tv.
NEW COACHING STAFF
For the first time in 30 years, the BGSU volleyball team has a new head coach. Three-time Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year Danijela Tomic takes over leadership of the program after 29-year head coach Denise Van De Walle retired following the 2011 season. Tomic spent seven years as the head coach at FIU, racking up a career record of 158-61. Assistant coaches Tucker Short and Jessica Hohl are also new to the program, as is Coordinator of Operations Lindsay Laurent.
Junior Kaitlyn Skinner earned her first career all-tournament honor as she was named to the Indiana Invitational All-Tournament team. That honor came a week after Danielle Tonyan was named to the Marquette Challenge All-Tournament team to open the season. It was the third time in her career that Tonyan was named all-tournament.
HOW THE MAC STACKS UP
The list below shows where BGSU ranks as a team and individuals among the MAC leaders in various statistical categories. Team or individual stats that rank first in the MAC are bolded and italicized:
TEAM STATS (Rank out of 12 MAC team)
Hitting Percentage – 8. BGSU .171
Opponent Hitting Percentage – 12. BGSU .248
Assists – 11. BGSU 10.00
Kills – 11. BGSU 11.11
Blocks – 5. BGSU 1.94
Service Aces – 1. BGSU 1.50
Digs – 10. BGSU 12.61
INDIVIDUAL STATS (Top 10 rankings)
Kills – 4. Danielle Tonyan 3.56; 8. Paige Penrod 3.33
Assists – 8. Laura Avila 8.50
Service Aces – 2. Paige Penrod 0.56
Blocks – 3. Kaitlyn Skinner 1.22
Digs – 10. Ashley Dunn 3.89
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
In her first two seasons at Bowling Green, Kaitlyn Skinner posted just seven career blocks. But in just the first five matches of 2012, the junior middle has 22 blocks, averaging a team-best 1.22 per set. Skinner has recorded at least two blocks in all five matches this year and has twice posted at least six blocks. She had a career-best seven against Northwestern during the opening weekend of the season.
HOLDING ALL THE ACES
Bowling Green ranks first in the MAC in service aces, averaging 1.50 per set. The Falcons have been led in the early going by Paige Penrod, who is second in the league with 0.56 per set. BGSU has at least three aces in every match this year, with a season-high seven against Northwestern.
While it's very early in the season, BGSU has a few players on pace to break into the top 10 in a single-season in some statistical categories. Paige Penrod is on pace for 56 service aces, which would be second-most all-time at Bowling Green, and her 0.56 aces per set would put her third. Kaitlyn Skinner is on pace for 118 block assists, which would sneak into the top 10 at tenth. Ashley Dunn's 3.89 digs per set would also rank tenth.
CAREER MARKS IN DOUBT
Paige Penrod is on pace to move into the top 10 in two career statistical categories by the end of her junior year. She needs 751 more attack attempts to tie Kendra Halm for tenth place and 30 more aces to tie Wendy Watkins for tenth. Ashley Dunn is 147 digs away from Jo Lynn Williamson to move into the top 10 all-time at BGSU and Laura Avila is 211 assists shy of Sara Sikorski for tenth.
BGSU was picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference East Division, by vote of the league's 12 head coaches in the MAC Preseason Poll. The Falcons trailed just Ohio and Miami in the poll, and ranked ahead of Buffalo, Kent State, and Akron. Western Michigan was picked to win the West and the Broncos were also selected as the overall regular season champions and the tournament champions.
TONYAN NAMED PRESEASON ALL-MAC
Junior right side hitter Danielle Tonyan was named East Division Preseason All-MAC, in voting by the league's 12 head coaches. Tonyan is coming off of a sophomore year in which she was named first team All-MAC and ranked third in the league in kills. She finished the year among the top 100 nationally in both kills and points. She joined Ohio's Chelsea Bilger, Lexie Hartnett and Kelly Lamberti, Buffalo's Liz Scott and Miami's Madison Hardy on the team. The West Division Preseason All-MAC team consisted of Western Michigan's Jessica Brown and Terin Norris, Ball State's Kara Bates, Central Michigan's Kaitlyn McIntyre, Eastern Michigan's Rachel Iaquaniello, and Northern Illinois' Mary Kurisch.
For the past few years, we've talked about how young the BGSU volleyball team is, but that's not the case anymore. Eleven of the 13 team members are either juniors or seniors (four seniors and seven juniors). That total is more than any other in the Mid-American Conference. Akron, Ball State, and Northern Illinois all have nine juniors and seniors. On the other end of the spectrum, Kent State has just three and Western Michigan has four.
TRANSFER OF POWER
The lone newcomer on the BGSU volleyball team is sophomore transfer Kelsey Bates. Bates, who hails from Willshire, Ohio, spent her freshman season at Syracuse before returning to her home state for this season.
With an 11-win increase over a year ago, Bowling Green was easily the most improved team in the Mid-American Conference a year ago. The Falcons improved from 8-24 in 2010 to 19-12 in 2011. The second most improved team in the conference was Central Michigan, which had a five-win increase.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Stroh Center has proven to be a strong home court advantage for all three BGSU athletic teams that compete in the arena. For volleyball, BGSU stunned Michigan State a year ago in the arena in four sets behind a record crowd of 2,961. In fact, that was the largest crowd any MAC team played in front of a year ago, home or away.
DUNN IS DIGGING IT
Ashley Dunn has already put her name in the BGSU record book a couple of times. As a freshman, she posted 457 digs, eighth most in program history. She followed that up with 450 a year ago, tenth most. With 977 career digs, she needs just 23 more to break 1,000 and only 147 more to tie Jo Lynn Williamson for the top 10 in a career at BGSU.
BEATING UP THE BIG TEN
With a four-set win over Indiana this past weekend, Bowling Green improved to 2-1 against Big Ten schools in the past two years. The Falcons defeated Michigan State in four sets a year ago and lost to Northwestern in four sets during the opening weekend of the 2012 regular season. The Falcons are scheduled to play Purdue out of the Big Ten next weekend.
THE DYNAMIC DUO
Bowling Green has one of the most talented attacking duos in the Mid-American Conference in juniors Danielle Tonyan and Paige Penrod. The pair is the only set of teammates in the MAC to both rank in the top 10 in the league in kills (Tonyan is fourth and Penrod is eighth) and they were the only set of teammates to do that a year ago as well. Both have recorded more than 300 kills in each of their first two years. Only one player in program history, Corey Domek, reached 300 kills in all four years of a career.
Five active players have recorded at least one double-double in their career (posting at least 10 kills, digs, assists, blocks, or aces in a match in two of those categories). Paige Penrod has a team-high 18 career double-doubles after posting two so far this year. Laura Avila follows with 11 and Erica Fullenkamp has five. Danielle Tonyan has both of her career double-doubles this year and Ashley Dunn has one.
Double-Doubles In 2012
8/24/12 at Marquette – Danielle Tonyan 12 kills, 10 digs
8/25/12 vs. Northwestern – Danielle Tonyan 19 kills, 10 digs
8/25/12 vs. Northwestern – Paige Penrod 13 kills, 11 digs
9/1/12 at Indiana – Paige Penrod 26 kills, 10 digs
9/1/12 at Indiana – Laura Avila 44 assists, 10 digs
20 KILLS OR 20 DIGS
Danielle Tonyan has recorded 20 kills in a match seven times in her career, while Paige Penrod had her sixth career 20-kill match against Indiana earlier this year. Tonyan's seven career 20-kill matches are the most since Corey Domek had nine from 2006-09. Ashley Dunn posted seven 20-dig matches as a freshman, three more as a sophomore, and has two more this year for a career total of 12. Her career total is the most since Chelsey Meek had 44 career matches with at least 20 digs from 2005-08.
20-Dig Matches In 2012
8/25/12 vs. Northwestern – Ashley Dunn 23 digs
9/1/12 at Indiana – Ashley Dunn 20 digs
20-Kill Matches In 2012
9/1/12 at Indiana – Paige Penrod 26 kills
Danielle Tonyan was named first team All-MAC as a sophomore in 2011, becoming the first player to earn that honor since Shari Luther in 2009. Kendra Halm, in 2006, was the last BGSU sophomore to be named first-team All-MAC and she went on to earn first team honors again as both a junior and senior.
HITTING THE BOOKS
Bowling Green has always stressed academics and Falcon volleyball has been a model of that philosophy. The 2011 BGSU volleyball team received the AVCA Academic Team Award for the 12th consecutive season, compiling a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or better. The Falcons have the second longest streak in all of NCAA Division I and has received the award 13 times overall. Two BGSU players, Laura Avila and Kari Galen, were named Academic All-MAC a year ago, while Lindsey Butterfield, Libby Dachenhaus, Ashley Dunn, and the graduated Emily Kauth were named honorable mention.