BG drops second MAC game in a row at home

Jason Dixon and Jason Dixon

The obituary was all but written and strung together, line-by-line with a morbid glee after Northern stole the first two games from the Bowling Green volleyball team in Sunday’s match.

And while the Falcons used energy and emotion to rebound with a gutsy performance in game three, it wasn’t enough in the end as the duo of Kate McCullagh and Amy Ward helped catapult the Huskies to a 3-1 victory, 30-27, 30-23, 23-30, 30-24.

It was the Falcons second consecutive loss to a Mid-American Conference opponent at home – the first time its happened since 2003 – and the first win for NIU in the last three meetings.

“This is a big win for us, because it was a win on the road which makes it that much better,” said McCullagh, who finished the match with a game-high 19 kills.”

“We’ve lost the last few, so that’s another reason this is really good,” she said. “Another reason is that they’re such a good team … That wasn’t an easy win by any means; We had to push hard through the whole thing.”

BG fell to 1-3 in the MAC East and 7-8 overall.

The Falcons raced out to a 17-13 advantage in game one when Chrissy Gothke sent down one of her eight kills on the day. But the Huskies responded with a 5-0 run to take their first lead.

Despite pulling ahead by three, 22-19, BG was unable to keep the momentum as NIU outscored the Falcons 11-5 to provide the final margin.

After falling behind 10-7 in game three, the Huskies used a 10-3 run to surge ahead by four, and never looked back while hitting .273 for the game.

McCullagh, who came into the match leading the nation in kills at 5.98 per game, said NIU was trying to take momentum right from the start.

The Falcons only hit .206 in game three compared to NIU’s .229 in game three. Still, BG took control early on, jumping out to a 10-7 lead.

The Huskies closed the margin to one, 10-9, but the Falcons went on a 9-5 run and never trailed by less than five for the remainder of the game.

NIU lead throughout what would be the final game, improving their record to 9-9 and 2-2 in the MAC.

“We took control for the first two (games),” McCullagh said. “The third we kind of let up, but then we got our acts back together and it all worked out.”

“Hopefully, this will carry over to our next few games,” she said. “I think it kind of shows people we can come out of nowhere and win games.”

NIU coach Ray Gooden hopes the Huskies will gain confidence from the win as the season goes on.

“Anytime we can get a win on the road in conference, it’s tremendous,” he said. “It was a tough match … Just for us to go out and battle like that against a really good team, it’s a great thing for us.”

Freshman Meghan Mohr led BG with 15 kills, while Stephanie Swiger and Corrie Mills chipped in with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Gothke contributed 43 assists and nine defensive digs.

Annie Griffin, who had six assists off the bench, said the loss was frustrating because the team came out strong in the first two games.

“We fell apart the last 10 points or so (in those games),” she said. “We could have fought harder … It was just little things that we couldn’t control, but their defense was very good.”

Falcons assistant coach Mark Hardaway said BG came in with the right mindset, but felt NIU got the edge when they jumped ahead 2-0.

“I know that as things went well for them, they started playing harder on the other side of the net and being more vocal,” said Hardaway. “We kind of went the other way. We stopped playing as hard. We stopped being as vocal.”

“When they jumped on us in game four I definitely thought we got a little tentative,” he said. “We put ourselves in a position where we’re behind everyone else … So the challenge to the team is to come into practice this week and try to change how we think of approaching a match.”