Volleyball win streak ends in loss to OU

For those who came to see the BGSU’s women’s volleyball team on Friday night, the only thing they have to be disappointed about is the way the match ended. Two close, controversial calls allowed Ohio to escape out of Anderson Arena with a five game victory. The Bobcats won by a score of 30-26, 30-23, 26-30, 25-30, 15-10.

A crowd of 1,305 came out to see the biggest volleyball match in quite a few years for the Falcons. The energy and excitement brought to the arena was electric and the support shown gave BG an added boost.

Ohio came out of the gate strong, winning the first two games. In the first game, BGSU got out early, taking a quick 9-7 lead. Ohio grabbed the lead in the middle of the match, but BGSU tied it at 16 all. Both teams were getting production from multiple players as the game headed down the wire. Ohio eventually took the lead at 24-21 and never looked back, finishing off the Falcons to win the game.

The second game was similar to the first. Ohio got a lead early in the game but saw the Falcons battle back. The Bobcats put the match away with a short run to extend their lead to 20-12. BGSU never recovered in game and saw itself in the worst possible situation: down two games to none going into halftime. The Falcons got a nice game from Kendra Halm, as she contributed six kills in game two.

“We were never in rhythm in the first two games,” said coach Denise Van De Walle. “We were not tough enough with our serves and could not get it done. They can hit and we just did not execute in the first two games.”

BGSU returned to the floor a different team when the third game began. A great start gave the Falcons an early 9-4 lead. That lead would see itself get smaller but the Falcons held the lead throughout the game, with the only tie coming at 18-18. BGSU had a few nice drop shots fall and added a couple of big kills to win their first game.

With their backs still against the wall, BGSU played a strong team game throughout. This was a close game, with back and forth points not allowing the crowd to get too excited. BGSU eventually pulled away to take a six point lead at 28-22 but had to stave off Ohio at the end to win the game. Stephanie Swiger, who had seven kills in the game and hit .417, led the Falcons on offense.

“We changed the lineup a bit, putting Chrissy Gothke on another player after halftime,” Van De Walle said. “Our goal all week was to attack out of the middle of the floor. That was our best way to get points but we were trying to get points from the outside. When we started to run our middles, that was when we started to see some success.”

The biggest match of the season came down to one 15-point game on Friday. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they were not able to defeat Ohio in a closely contested game. BGSU lead early but Ohio take a 9-6 lead in the middle of the game. Ohio did not look back, escaping with a 15-10 victory. BGSU had only itself to blame as they hit .150 on offense in the game while committing three costly errors. By contrast, Ohio hit .476 in the game and only committed one error.

“We ran the middle throughout the game but they were able to get some transition kills,” said Van De Walle. “The calls at the end hurt but we thank those who came for bringing all the energy they did.”

“It was a very hard fought, exhausting match,” Gothke said. “The game was a battle of two evenly matched teams and it came down to the fifth game. With everything on the line, they played well in game five and we did not.”

Ohio was led by star Melissa Griffin, who recorded 22 kills. Ohio only hit .193 for the match but BGSU hit an even lower .159. BGSU was led in kills by Swiger, who had 19. Halm added 17 while Madeline Means also gave the team 13 kills.

“It took us awhile to get going against OU but once we did we played well,” Swiger said. “We know what they have now and expect to give them a better fight from the start when we go down there in a few weeks. We played very well overall though, as every aspect of our game was doing well.”

After that heartbreaking loss, it would be tough for any team to play less than 24 hours later against another quality opponent and expect to perform on its highest level. But a funny thing happened when the Falcons returned to the floor Saturday afternoon. BGSU dominated Kent State and swept a three game match from them. The Falcons won by a score of 30-18, 30-21, 30-23.

The Falcons defense showed up on Saturday, holding Kent State to a .080 hitting percentage while hitting .310 themselves. Halm and Swiger were the only Falcons to reach double digits in kills, with 18 and 12, respectively. The Falcons closed out the weekend 22-3 overall and 11-1 in the MAC.

“We had a great effort today from our defensive backcourt,” Van De Walle said. “We were blocking balls as well and the effort was tremendous. I did not know how the team would respond after the tough loss Friday but we proved today that we can rebound well.”

BGSU will battle two tough Mid-American Conference teams this week. They will travel to Miami on Wednesday night before returning home to host Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

“We have two good matches to play this week and we just need to keep a good mentality,” Gothke said. “We have to take each match one at a time and stay positive and aggressive on the floor.”