Three players had at least 17 kills as the Bowling Green State University volleyball team opened the Purdue Active Ankle Challenge with a four-set victory over UAB Friday afternoon. The Falcons won 28-26, 25-20, 28-30, 25-22.
Although the match was fairly close throughout, Bowling Green dominated most statistical categories. The Falcons had 14 more kills, 15 more digs and 2.5 more blocks than the Blazers. Paige Penrod led the way with 19 kills, followed by Danielle Tonyan with 18 and Lindsey Butterfield with 17, tying her career high for the second consecutive match.
BGSU hit .237 to improve to 3-0 when hitting at least that high. Leah Shaw hit .389 with nine kills, while Tonyan was at .371 and Butterfield hit .361.
"This was a great win for us for a couple of reasons," BGSU Head Coach Danijela Tomic said. "First, we were able to win a very close first set, which we have struggled with in previous matches. Second, we were able to bounce back in the fourth set after losing a very close third set in which we had four match points. We are maturing as a team and this match was a perfect example of that."
On the defensive side, Cassie Berning spearheaded a strong effort with a career-best 22 digs as the Falcons had 74 for the match. Kari Galen had a team-high five blocks, while Shaw and Penrod had four each as BGSU posted 11.5 during the match.
Bowling Green trailed by as many as four points in the first set but rallied back with a 5-0 run to go ahead 21-18. UAB called timeout and steadied itself, tying the score at 23-23. The Falcons staved off two set points and took the opening set by getting a Shaw kill, followed by a Penrod kill and then a block from Kaitlyn Skinner and Penrod.
The Falcons were never really challenged in the second set, scoring the first five points and never having the lead fall below three the rest of the way.
BGSU had a chance to put away the match in the third set but UAB led from the outset. The Falcons finally tied the score at 23-23 on a block from Tonyan and Galen and Bowling Green had four opportunities to close out the match before the Blazers rallied from a 28-27 deficit to win 30-28.
The demoralizing third set could have turned the match but the Falcons were determined to put it away in four. Trailing 16-14, BGSU used two Tonyan kills and a Penrod spike to spark a 4-0 run. Leading 21-20, the Falcons put the match away with two more Penrod kills and one from Butterfield for the 25-22 victory.
With the loss, UAB falls to 5-7 on the year. Bowling Green improves to 3-6 and will face Jacksonville State Friday night at 5 p.m. before playing No. 14 Purdue Saturday at 7 p.m.