The Bowling Green State University volleyball team won its seventh consecutive match and stayed undefeated at home by defeating a strong Oakland squad 23-25, 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 15-7 Tuesday night in the Stroh Center.
The Falcons improved to 5-0 at home in a marathon match that saw long rally after long rally and both teams relying on defense to stay alive. BGSU had 112 digs as a team, the most since the team also had 112 against Ball State on Sept. 22, 2000, to edge out Oakland's effort of 100. Laura Avila posted a career-high 36 digs, the most since Chelsey Meek set the school record with 38 on Oct. 13, 2007. Avila's 36 digs were more than double her previous career high of 17.
Not to be forgotten was a strong performance by junior outside hitter Paige Penrod. She entered the match just seven kills shy of 1,000 and terminated a match-high 23 swings on the evening. Late in the second set, she had just six kills and six attack errors, but finished out the match with 17 more kills and just one more attack error.
Bowling Green won its second consecutive match in five sets and the Falcons never trailed by more than a point in the deciding frame. Oakland held a slight 5-4 lead but BGSU went on an 8-1 run to put the Grizzlies away. Penrod had three kills during the run and BGSU Head Coach Danijela Tomic had a trick up her sleeve that paid dividends.
With the Falcons leading 9-6, Oakland used a timeout to try to stop a run. Tomic inserted Kelsey Bates, who had not played in more than a month, and she combined with Kaitlyn Skinner for a block on the next point to keep the Falcons rolling. Leah Shaw followed with a service ace and Penrod knocked down a kill that essentially put the match away.
The fifth set was the culmination of a comeback that saw the Falcons find its rhythm as the match wore on. After losing the opening set 25-23 and hitting just .083 in that frame, BGSU improved to .150 in the second set and .244 in the third. The Falcons cruised to 25-22 and 25-17 wins in both of those sets.
The Falcons slipped back to a .176 attack percentage in the fourth, but BGSU was still hitting well and the team closed with a .438 rate in the fifth. Besides Penrod's 23 kills, Danielle Tonyan had 13 and Lindsey Butterfield added 11. Shaw finished with nine kills and Skinner had five.
Skinner also tied her career-high with 10 blocks during the match and Tonyan added seven. Bowling Green had six aces as a team and did not allow Oakland an ace for the entire match. It was only the second time in the past four years that a BGSU opponent did not record a single ace in the contest.
Oakland falls to 11-9 on the year and Bowling Green improves to 11-7. The Falcons, which are 6-0 in Mid-American Conference play, will head back to league action for the final 10 matches of the regular season. The squad will play at Eastern Michigan Friday at 7 p.m. and at Central Michigan Saturday at 7 p.m.