AKRON - The Bowling Green State University volleyball team moved to 3-0 in Mid-American Conference action for the first time since 2006 as the Falcons swept Akron 26-24, 25-20, 25-18 Friday night on the road.
BGSU has not lost a set in its first three conference matches this year, a feat the Falcons have never accomplished in program history. The 2006 team that started 3-0 won its first 10 conference matches before finishing 13-3 in league play. In all, this is the seventh time the Bowling Green volleyball team has started MAC play with at least three consecutive wins.
Much like the team's win over Ohio to open conference play a week ago, the critical points in this match came very late in the first set. Bowling Green staved off two set points by Akron after falling behind 24-22. Danielle Tonyan posted a kill to pull the Falcons within one and then Ashley Dunn had two great serves, the first of which was an ace and the second of which led into a Lindsey Butterfield kill to put BGSU ahead 25-24. After an Akron timeout, Butterfield came up big again with another kill for the 26-24 win.
"Our team is playing with a lot of confidence and it showed in the first set when we saved two set points and were able to come from behind to win 26-24," BGSU Head Coach Danijela Tomic said.
From that point forward, the Falcons never trailed by more than one point. In fact, Bowling Green used a 7-1 run to open the third set and never trailed in that frame.
Akron did hang tough in the second set as the Falcons led by a slim 17-16 score late. But Paige Penrod came up with a kill and Tonyan added two more to give BGSU the breathing room it needed to finish off the 25-20 win.
After that 7-1 run to start the third, Akron answered with an identical 7-1 spurt to tie the score. The Falcons, though, used another 7-1 stretch midway through the third to put the match away.
Butterfield, the defending MAC East Offensive Player of the Week, had a match-high 16 kills and hit .438. Penrod added 15 kills and 15 digs, while Tonyan ended with 10 kills. Dunn had a match-high 19 digs and had both of the team's service aces. Leah Shaw, the defending MAC East Defensive Player of the Week, finished with a team-best three blocks and Laura Avila handed out 42 assists and had six digs.
As a team, Bowling Green hit a season-high .330 and tied its season-low with just 14 attack errors. Akron hit just .185, the third consecutive match in which the Falcons have held an opponent below .200.
"This was a great first conference road win," Tomic said. "Our offense was solid on the pins and we increased our hitting efficency each set which is something we've been working on. We struggled with blocking tonight but were able to make some adjustments in the third set. We'll continue to focus one point at a time, one set at a time and one match at a time. We'll enjoy this win for a few more hours and then we have to get ready for our match against Buffalo tomorrow."