BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University volleyball team put on a show on Saturday night, as they swept Northern Illinois in a rematch of the 2012 MAC Championship game. The second largest volleyball crowd in Stroh Center history—1,503 fans—was on hand to cheer on the Falcons. With the win, Bowling Green improves to 8-5, 2-0 in the MAC, while NIU drops to 9-7, 1-1 in the MAC.
The Falcons dominated play all night long with a balanced attack, as all six Falcons to record a kill had four or more in the match. Lindsey Butterfield's 11 kills led the way. Butterfield added 13 digs—a season high—to record her second straight double-double. Paige Penrod was also in double figures, as she recorded 10 kills in the match. For the second straight match, senior Kaitlyn Skinner tied a season high with eight kills, and Ashley Dunn recorded 20 digs.
The Falcons scored early and often on Saturday night, as the Orange and Brown jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead early in the match. The Huskies would battle back to tie the set at 7-7, though, as the first set would remain tied 16-16. From that point on, the Falcons would dominate play, as three quick points forced NIU's Ray Gooden into taking his first timeout. The Huskies would take their second timeout trailing 22-17, on the heels of a 6-1 run for the Falcons. Coming out of the timeout, the Falcons would commit two straight attacking errors, as the Huskies hung around trailing just 22-19. But the Falcons would finish off the set, as Butterfield's swing found the ground, giving the Falcons a 25-20 win in the first set.
The Orange and Brown would score eight of the first 11 points in the second set, as NIU would burn an early timeout with the Falcons leading 8-3. Gooden would take his second timeout with Bowling Green up 14-8, as the Falcons were rolling midway through the second set. NIU would get within three points on two different occasions the rest of the set, but that would be as close as it would get. With the Falcons on the verge of a 2-0 lead in the match, NIU would stave off three straight set points to get back to within 24-21. But, following a timeout by Danijela Tomic, NIU would commit an attacking error, as the Falcons rolled to a 25-21 second set win.
NIU would once again have to burn an early timeout in the third set, as the Falcons came out of halftime strong. The Huskies would fight back to within 10-8 against the Falcons, but a kill from Jelena Sunjic would extend the lead to 11-8. Leading 16-12, the Falcons would get a kill from Kelsey Bates to take a 17-12 lead. Following an NIU attacking error, the Falcons led 18-12 and NIU would be forced to call their final timeout of the set. Out of the break, Northern Illinois would score three straight, as the Falcons would be forced into a timeout with an 18-15 lead. That timeout would slow the NIU attack, as the Falcons eventually found themselves leading 24-19 after a Penrod kill. With the crowd on their feet, and the Falcons serving for match point, Skinner and Sunjic would team up for a huge block to give the Orange and Brown the 25-19 win in the third set.
The Falcons will now turn their attention to next weekend, as they travel to Kent State and #22 Ohio for a pair of MAC road games. Saturday night's crowd was the second biggest volleyball crowd in Stroh Center history. The largest crowd came on September 9, 2011, when the Falcons downed Michigan State in four sets in front of 2,961. That match was the first sporting event at the Stroh Center.