Senior Paige Penrod had 21 kills and 10 digs but the Bowling Green State University volleyball team saw its Mid-American Conference championship hopes take a turn for the worse with a 25-19, 19-25, 25-14, 25-17 loss to Western Michigan Saturday night.
Bowling Green falls to 8-4 in MAC play, dropping two games behind both Ball State and Ohio with just four conference matches to play. A year ago, the Falcons won the MAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, advancing to the NCAA Tournament second round after gaining the automatic bid.
Still playing without first team All-MAC player Lindsey Butterfield, who is currently injured, Bowling Green hit just .157 on the evening. After Penrod's 21 kills, Jelena Sunjic had 13 and Danielle Tonyan added 12. But the Falcons were unable to find a consistent fourth option, while Western Michigan had five players with at least six kills.
The Falcons outdug Western Michigan 63-60 and had five more kills but the Broncos hit .247, had two more blocks and two more aces than Bowling Green.
After losing the first set 25-19, the Falcons bounced back to even the match with an identical 25-19 win in the second. Penrod had eight kills and hit .500 in the set as the Falcons hit .429 as a team. Tied at 9-9, Penrod had a string of three consecutive kills during a four-point run that put Bowling Green ahead for good. Western Michigan never got closer than three points the rest of the frame.
The Broncos bounced back in the third set, jumping out to a 13-6 lead and cruising to a 25-14 win. The fourth set, though, came down to the latter stages to determine the match.
Kills by Tonyan and Kelsey Bates tied the fourth set at 14-14 and the Falcons trailed by just one point at 17-16 following a block by Erica Fullenkamp and Bates. The Broncos, though, closed the match with an 8-1 run, getting six kills during the span.
Western Michigan improves to 14-11 overall and 7-5 in MAC play with the win. Bowling Green remains a game ahead of the Broncos in the league standings but drops to 12-12 overall. The Falcons return home for the final time this upcoming weekend when they host MAC East leader Ohio Friday night at 7 pm and Kent State Saturday at 7 pm.