Volleyball stays hot against NIU

Victories come in many different ways.

There are those that you have simply have to show up, and it’s nearly given to you. Then there are those that hang on the edge until the final moments. BG’s women’s volleyball team has been perfecting the first but found out yesterday about the latter.

In one of their biggest games of the season to date, the Falcons walked out of Northern Illinois with a huge victory. The score was 22-30, 30-22, 30-20, 28-30 and 15-5. In only their third five game match all season, BG came up big in the end when it mattered most. Previously, the team was 1-1 in five game matches, losing to Cleveland State but defeating Duquesne.

“I think that was a great win,” said BG coach Denise Van De Walle. “They are a very talented team and I am ecstatic about getting out of there with a win.”

The win extends their winning streak to 10 matches, leaving them with a record of 14-2 overall and 4-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The victory also gave Northern Illinois their first conference loss, leaving only BG and Ohio undefeated in the MAC.

“It was a very good match, they really challenged us,” said BG’s Stephanie Swiger. “It took a team effort to get the win but we were able to do it.”

In the early part of the match, Northern Illinois seemed as though they would not be denied. BG hit only .184 in the first game compared to the Huskies .333. An early deficit proved too much for the Falcons though.

In the game, Swiger had five kills while Madeline Means added four.

“We were out of it in the first game,” Van De Walle said. “They were very aggressive and we could not do anything until about the 19th point.”

BG responded well, taking the next two games. In the second game, the Falcons hit .395 and took control early. They were able to fend off any Huskies charges and tied the match up after two games. Kendra Halm was the star of game two as she led the Falcons with six kills.

The Falcons defense could be credited with leading the team to a third game victory, as they held Northern Illinois to a .057 hitting percentage. With NIU’s Kate McCullagh neutralized by the Falcons digs, BG continued its charge by taking the game 30-20. The Falcons also had to overcome 10 hitting errors to win the game.

“The next couple of games went really well and it seemed like a complete turnaround from the first game,” Van De Walle said. “We were the aggressor in those games and we played well after it took awhile to get things going.”

BG looked to have things going their way and that continued into the fourth game.

They led throughout, even as late as 28-27 but three straight Huskies points sent the game into a deciding fifth game and had the Falcons backs against the wall. In the game, the Falcons had 24 kills.

A strong start and a dominating offensive performance was able to give BG the match when they took the fifth game 15-5. In the game, the Falcons hit .700 on offense and showed they would not be denied a victory. Means led the Falcons with three kills in the game.

“I am very happy the way we played in the fifth game, as it was very lopsided,” Van De Walle said. “Means and Domek, our outside hitters, played great today and gave us exactly what we needed. Means had a great all around game and she gave us a compete performance.”

Two players led the team in kills as Corey Domek and Madeline Means each posted 18 kills. Means and Domek also had the highest hitting percentages, hitting .318 and .317 respectively. Halm added 16 kills and the Falcons totaled 78 for the match. Halm also added two blocks.

The team had many digs, with Chelsey Meek leading the way with 18. Chrissy Gothke had 15 digs while Means had 14.

“I think the 4-0 start in the conference is big because we have made a statement to the other teams in the conference,” Swiger said. “The wins build confidence and let us know that we are on the right track and that we are doing things well. We still need to work on being consistent but once we do that, we will have everything under control.”

The Falcons will return to Bowling Green for a short home stand this weekend, hosting Akron and Buffalo. The Akron match on Friday will start at 7 p.m., and the Saturday match against Buffalo beginning at 3 p.m.