Falcons honor Van De Walle with another win

Sean Shapiro and Sean Shapiro

In a game put aside for celebration and fanfare, the Falcons did not disappoint on the day they celebrated Coach Denise Van De Walle’s 25th year.

The Falcons won three straight games, 30-17, 30-24 and 30-28, extending their current winning streak to six matches.

“[The win] was huge, it was so important to back her up for her celebration. We didn’t want anything to damper the awesome day,” said freshman setter Sam Fish.

The Falcons began game one strongly, jumping on the Huskies right from the start with a 10-4 lead. They never looked back – the closest Northern Illinois got was within four points.

The Falcons were aggressive, hitting over .300 and having three service aces.

In game two, BG had a significantly more difficult time at the beginning of the game as the Huskies jumped out to an 8-4 lead. The Falcons battled back, though, to tie the game at 10, and on the next point, took a lead they would hold for the rest of the game.

Having won 30-24, the Falcons were dominant at the net, recording 21 kills and hitting .348 for the game.

“We had scouted Northern Illinois on two separate matches, and we knew we needed a big game at the net. And our goal before the match was to get 17 kills a game and that’s our goal every match, but today, specifically, we put an emphasis on offense. And those first two games we hit over .300,” Van De Walle said.

In the game, three of the Huskies made BG sweat a little before they could celebrate. Northern Illinois came back from 28-25 to tie it at 28 and force Van De Walle to call a timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, the Falcons won the game, clinching the match on a combined block by senior Kendra Halm and sophomore Corey Domek.

The win pushed the Falcons’ record to 10-5. After her 451st career victory, the crowd gave Van De Walle a standing ovation and BG athletic director Greg Christopher presented her with an inscribed glass vase to commemorate her 25th season.

“I think we’re playing as a team, we’re playing better, we’re hitting better,” said senior Elizabeth Simon about the team’s current winning streak.

In attendance at the match were many of Van De Walle’s friends and family, including her mother and Barbara Curcio, her college coach from Kent State in the mid-’70s. Another gesture that Van De Walle enjoyed was how the entire team decorated and put up posters congratulating her on the North gym wall.

Statistically, Fish led the Falcons with 44 assists, and two players had double digits in kills – Meghan Mohr and Domek, both with 12.

BG is now 2-0 in the MAC and heads to Kent State on Friday before its big match up Saturday with the four-time defending MAC champions, the Ohio Bobcats.