BGSU Volleyball Preview - Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

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BGSU Volleyball Preview

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Bowling Green heads on the road to play a pair of matches that could determine the Mid-American Conference regular season championship. At 14-8 overall and 9-1 in conference play, the Falcons will play at Kent State, 3-7 in the MAC, Friday night at 7 p.m. The Falcons will then face the team they are tied with atop the MAC standings as Bowling Green plays at 9-1 Ohio Saturday at 7 p.m. The Falcons handed Ohio its only loss in the MAC opener and the Bobcats have not lost since.

Kent State enters the weekend with a 6-16 overall record, including 3-7 in the MAC. Bowling Green swept the Golden Flashes in three sets earlier this year but KSU is coming off of a four-set win over Northern Illinois in which the team had a season-high 16 blocks. Kent allows opponents to hit a MAC-worst .237 and the Golden flashes rank last in the league in kills and digs. In conference play, 5-foot-7 junior Hannah Herc is fifth in the MAC with 4.71 digs per set. Head Coach Don Gromala is in his first season leading the Kent State program.
Ohio heads into the weekend with identical records to Bowling Green, 14-8 overall and 9-1 in MAC play. The Bobcats are one of the top blocking teams in the country, ranking 23rd nationally with 2.73 blocks per set. Serena Warner, a 6-foot sophomore middle blocker, leads the way with a MAC-best 1.32 blocks per set and she is also hitting a team-best .317. Kelly Lamberti, a 6-foot sophomore outside hitter, posts 3.89 kills per set, third-most in the conference, and 4.52 points per set. As a team, Ohio leads the MAC in three statistical category – hitting percentage, opponent hitting percentage, and blocks. Head Coach Ryan Theis is 110-46 in his fourth season leading the Bobcat program.
There are a variety of ways to follow this weekend's action and links for all will be available on Kent State will provide live stats and live video for the Friday night match, while Ohio will have live stats for the Saturday match. As well, fans can keep up with the action on Twitter by following @BGAthletics and @jknavel.
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 to listen on the web.
The Buckeye Cable Sports Network (BCSN), broadcasting to the greater Toledo area, has televised four BGSU home matches this year. The station televised the team's Orange and Brown scrimmage and followed that up by broadcasting Kent State, Western Michigan, and Toledo victories.
BGSU is 6-1 inside the Stroh Center in 2012 and the Falcons have the third-best home attendance in the league at 722 (only Ohio and Western Michigan are better). A year ago, BGSU stunned Michigan State in four sets in the Stroh Center behind a program-record crowd of 2,961.
BGSU started 8-0 in MAC play this year for the fourth time in program history. Most recently, the 2006 team started conference play with 10 straight wins and went on to finish 13-3, tied for second in the MAC East Division. Prior to that, the 1992 team started 13-0 and won the conference with a record of 17-1. The only other 8-0 start came in 1989, when the league played just eight conference matches and the Falcons won them all to earn a conference title.
With nine Mid-American Conference wins this year, Bowling Green has already surpassed its conference win total from a year ago when the squad went 6-10. It marks the second consecutive year in which the team has shown an increased league win total. Akron is the only other MAC team with more wins than a year ago as the Zips are 5-5 after going 1-15 in 2011.
Eight teams advance to the Mid-American Conference Tournament played at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio beginning Nov. 16. If play were to start today, the Falcons would be the No. 1 seed for the tournament and would face off against No. 8 seed Ball State, the only team to beat BGSU this year. The Falcons need just one win or one loss from both Miami and Kent State to qualify for the MAC Tournament.
Bowling Green played in four consecutive matches that have went the entire five sets recently, winning all four of those matches. Prior to that stretch, the Falcons had played in just one five-set match, a loss to Utah. It is the first time in program history that the team has played four straight five-set matches.
Early in the year, BGSU's defense was a weak point and the Falcons had 28 fewer digs than their opponents in the first three matches. But hard work has paid off and Bowling Green is now one of the best digging teams in the MAC. The Falcons have outdug 16 of their 19 opponents since that time (including 9-of-10 conference teams) and had an amazing 112 digs against Oakland, the most for the program in 12 years. In those 19 matches since the slow start, BGSU has posted 122 more digs than their opponents. In 10 league matches, BGSU has 81 more digs.
The NCAA released the latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) ranking of the 2012 season Monday and Bowling Green dropped seven spots from a week ago to No. 57, the highest ranking of any school in the MAC. Ohio is right on the Falcons' tail at No. 58 and the team's other opponent this week, Kent State, is No. 191. A year ago, BGSU finished the year at No. 138.
In a five-week stretch, the Mid-American Conference honored BGSU by handing down six MAC Player of the Week awards. Ashley Dunn was named MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week three consecutive times. The week prior to that, Lindsey Butterfield earned Offensive Player of the Week honors and Leah Shaw was named Defensive Player of the Week. The week before that, Paige Penrod earned MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week honors. Dunn has now been named MAC Defensive Player of the Week five times in her career. For Penrod, she has earned three Player of the Week honors (two offensive and one defensive), while Butterfield and Shaw were named for the first time. Along with those four, Danielle Tonyan and Kari Galen also have been named MAC Player of the Week at least one time in their careers.
Over the past 15 matches, junior outside hitter Paige Penrod and junior setter Laura Avila have been playing at a high level. In the first seven matches of the season, Penrod averaged 3.40 kills per set and recorded eight kills or less three times. In the past 15 matches, she has been almost a kill per set better at 4.30 and has at least 11 kills in every contest. Over those first seven matches, Avila averaged only 9.12 assists per set, but in the last 15 she is more than two assists per set better at 11.20. She has also handed out at least 50 assists five times in that 15-match stretch after reaching that total just once in her career.
Junior outside hitter Lindsey Butterfield has possibly been the most critical part of the Falcons' 9-1 start in league play, stepping up her game once conference action began. Butterfield never had more than seven kills a year ago and reached double-digit kill totals just four times in 11 non-conference matches this year. But in MAC play, she has at least 10 kills in 9-of-10 matches and is hitting .279, a strong improvement over her .211 attack percentage in non-conference contests.
Senior middle Leah Shaw and junior middle Kaitlyn Skinner have been tough to hit around since MAC play began. Shaw tied a program record with 11 block assists in a four-set victory over Buffalo and the two are each averaging more than 1.00 block per set in league play. Skinner has 45 blocks in MAC matches, an average of 1.36 per set, while Shaw has 44 blocks, an average of 1.13. They are the only duo to both rank in the top five in the league in conference matches with Skinner third and Shaw fifth.
Ashley Dunn keeps climbing the BGSU dig charts. She already has two of the best 10 single-seasons in Bowling Green history for digs and now has 1,285 career digs, fifth-most in program history. She is on pace to end the 2011 regular season with 481 digs, which would be her career-high in a season and would rank fifth in BGSU history. Her current average of 4.45 digs per set is the fourth-best season in program history.
Against Central Michigan, junior Paige Penrod recorded her 300th kill of the 2011 season, giving her at least that many in each year of her career. Only one player in program history, Corey Domek, has had four 300-kill seasons in her career. Remarkably, junior teammate Danielle Tonyan is only 21 kills from posting the third 300-kill season of her career as well.
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 – 6. BGSU .210
Opponent Hitting Percentage – 4. BGSU .189
Assists – 5. BGSU 12.51
Kills – 5. BGSU 13.64
Blocks – 3. BGSU 2.32
Service Aces – 7. BGSU 1.16
Digs – 6. BGSU 15.85
INDIVIDUAL STATS (Top 10 rankings)
Hitting Percentage – 8. Leah Shaw .287
Kills – 2. Paige Penrod 4.05; 9. Danielle Tonyan 3.28
Assists – 4. Laura Avila 10.59
Service Aces – 7. Paige Penrod 0.28
Blocks – 3. Kaitlyn Skinner 1.19
Digs – 7. Ashley Dunn 4.45
TEAM STATS (Rank out of 12 MAC team)
Hitting Percentage – 4. BGSU .230
Opponent Hitting Percentage – 1. BGSU .147
Assists – 4. BGSU 13.03
Kills – 3. BGSU 14.13
Blocks – 2. BGSU 2.69
Service Aces – 9. BGSU 1.05
Digs – 3. BGSU 16.97
INDIVIDUAL STATS (Top 10 rankings)
Kills – 3. Paige Penrod 3.90; 10. Lindsey Butterfield 3.36
Assists – 4. Laura Avila 11.05
Service Aces – T9. Cassie Berning 0.26
Blocks – 3. Kaitlyn Skinner 1.36; 5. Leah Shaw 1.13
Digs – 1. Ashley Dunn 5.28
Listed below is how BG ranks nationally as a team and individually:
TEAM STATS (Rank out of 328 NCAA Division I teams)
Service Aces – 194. Bowling Green 1.16
Assists – 84. Bowling Green 12.95
Blocks – 82. Bowling Green 2.32
Digs – 98. Bowling Green 15.85
Hitting Percentage – 132. Bowling Green .210
Kills – 63. Bowling Green 13.64
INDIVIDUAL STATS (Top 250 Nationally)
Aces – 241. Paige Penrod 0.28
Assists – 65. Laura Avila 10.59
Blocks – 75. Kaitlyn Skinner 1.19
Digs – 121. Ashley Dunn 4.45
Kills – 46. Paige Penrod 4.05; 193. Danielle Tonyan 3.28
Points – 56. Paige Penrod 4.55; 194. Danielle Tonyan 3.77
Junior setter Laura Avila moved into 10th place in career assists at BGSU earlier this year and became just the 10th player in program history with 2,000 career assists in the win over Ohio. She needs 150 more to tie Wendy Watkins (1994-97) for ninth place on the leaderboard. Paige Penrod is 10th in career attack attempts and needs five more to tie Heather Murphy (1996-98) for ninth. Ashley Dunn is already in fifth place in career digs at BGSU and needs 59 more to tie Holli Costein for fourth place.
Bowling Green has one of the most talented attacking duos in the Mid-American Conference in juniors Paige Penrod and Danielle Tonyan. The pair is one of only two sets of teammates in the MAC to both rank in the top nine in the league in kills (Penrod is second and Tonyan is ninth) and they were the only set of teammates to both rank in the top 10 a year ago. Both have recorded more than 300 kills in each of their first two years and are on pace to reach that total again this year (Penrod has already reached 300 this year). Only one player in program history, Corey Domek, reached 300 kills in all four years of a career.
Against Oakland in a mid-week non-conference match, Bowling Green had 112 team digs, the most for the program since 2000. In that contest, Laura Avila had a career-high 36 digs, coming up just two shy of the program record, set by Chelsey Meek in 2007.
In Bowling Green's win over Buffalo, the Falcons set or tied a number of blocking records. The team had 23.0 team blocks, which are the most ever by a BGSU team in a four-set victory. The team also had a program record 40 block assists, while Leah Shaw tied the school record with 11 block assists in a four-set match.
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.

Paige Penrod has recorded double-doubles (at least 10 kills, digs, assists, blocks, or aces in a match in two of those categories) in six consecutive matches, giving her 14 this year and a team-high 30 for her career. Laura Avila follows with 20 (10 this year) and Erica Fullenkamp has five. Danielle Tonyan has all four of her career double-doubles this year and Ashley Dunn has one. Penrod's 30 career double-doubles are the most since Chrissy Gothke had 38 from 2003-06.
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
9/7/12 vs. Portland State – Laura Avila 49 assists, 11 digs
9/8/12 at BYU – Paige Penrod 11 kills, 13 digs
9/8/12 vs. Utah – Paige Penrod 30 kills, 19 digs
9/8/12 vs. Utah – Laura Avila 64 assists, 14 digs
9/14/12 vs. UAB – Paige Penrod 19 kills, 12 digs
9/14/12 vs. UAB – Laura Avila 60 assists, 10 digs
9/14/12 vs. Jacksonville State – Laura Avila 50 assists, 15 digs
9/21/12 vs. Ohio – Paige Penrod 14 kills, 13 digs
9/21/12 vs. Ohio – Laura Avila 37 assists, 11 digs
9/28/12 at Akron – Paige Penrod 15 kills, 15 digs
9/29/12 at Buffalo – Paige Penrod 11 kills, 11 digs
10/6/12 vs. Western Michigan – Paige Penrod 21 kills, 14 digs
10/9/12 vs. Oakland – Paige Penrod 23 kills, 16 digs
10/9/12 vs. Oakland – Laura Avila 46 assists, 36 digs
10/12/12 at Eastern Michigan – Paige Penrod 21 kills, 11 digs
10/12/12 at Eastern Michigan – Laura Avila 55 assists, 17 digs
10/12/12 at Eastern Michigan – Danielle Tonyan 16 kills, 18 digs
10/13/12 at Central Michigan – Danielle Tonyan 14 kills, 12 digs
10/13/12 at Central Michigan – Paige Penrod 16 kills, 14 digs
10/13/12 at Central Michigan – Laura Avila 44 assists, 16 digs
10/19/12 vs. Ball State – Paige Penrod 14 kills, 27 digs
10/19/12 vs. Ball State – Laura Avila 48 assists, 13 digs
10/20/12 vs. Toledo – Paige Penrod 17 kills, 11 digs

Paige Penrod has posted 20 kills in a match 11 times in her career and Danielle Tonyan has reached that total eight times. Lindsey Butterfield had her first career-20 kill match against Eastern Michigan. Those 11 career 20-kill matches for Penrod are the most since Caty Rommeck had 17 from 1999-01. Ashley Dunn posted seven 20-dig matches as a freshman, three more as a sophomore, and has seven more this year for a career total of 17. Her career total is the most since Chelsey Meek had 44 career matches with at least 20 digs from 2005-08. Cassie Berning posted the first 20-dig match of her career against UAB, Laura Avila did the same against Oakland, and Penrod recorded her first against Ball State.
20-Dig Matches In 2012
8/25/12 vs. Northwestern – Ashley Dunn 23 digs
9/1/12 at Indiana – Ashley Dunn 20 digs
9/14/12 vs. UAB – Cassie Berning 22 digs
9/29/12 at Buffalo – Ashley Dunn 27 digs
10/6/12 vs. Western Michigan – Ashley Dunn 29 digs
10/9/12 vs. Oakland – Laura Avila 36 digs
10/9/12 vs. Oakland – Ashley Dunn 25 digs
10/12/12 at Eastern Michigan – Ashley Dunn 28 digs
10/13/12 at Central Michigan – Ashley Dunn 24 digs
10/19/12 vs. Ball State – Paige Penrod 27 digs
20-Kill Matches In 2012
9/1/12 at Indiana – Paige Penrod 26 kills
9/8/12 vs. Utah – Paige Penrod 30 kills
9/14/12 vs. Jacksonville State – Paige Penrod 21 kills
9/14/12 vs. Jacksonville State – Danielle Tonyan 20 kills
10/6/12 vs. Western Michigan – Paige Penrod 21 kills
10/9/12 vs. Oakland – Paige Penrod 23 kills
10/12/12 at Eastern Michigan – Paige Penrod 21 kills
10/12/12 at Eastern Michigan – Lindsey Butterfield 21 kills
Following her MAC East Offensive Player of the Week recognition, Lindsey Butterfield was also named the MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week on Sept. 26. A biology major with a 3.89 GPA, Butterfield earned the league's weekly award given to just one male and one female student-athlete across all sports.
Four different BGSU players earned all-tournament honors at one of the four pre-conference tournament this year. Paige Penrod earned the honor twice (making five in her career), being named to the team at the last two tournaments, the Purdue Active Ankle Challenge and the BYU Nike Invitational. Laura Avila was also named all-tournament at the Purdue Active Ankle Challenge (the second of her career), while Kaitlyn Skinner earned her first career all-tournament honor at the Indiana Invitational. Danielle Tonyan opened the year by being named to the Marquette Challenge All-Tournament team, the third all-tournament honor she has earned in her three years at BGSU.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.