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Volleyball has tough time with Eastern and Western

The Bowling Green State volleyball team had excuses but refused to use them.

They had reasons to feel sorry for themselves but were angry at themselves instead.

They had explanations but chose not to use them.

In every case the Falcons had the right outlook after being swept by Western Michigan and dropping a five-set match to Eastern Michigan inside Anderson Arena last weekend. They lost two games they could have won.

“I don’t think it would have been an upset if we had beaten Western, because we both had identical records and they got crushed by Ohio last night,” head coach Denise Van De Walle said yesterday. “The team was pretty disappointed after the loss to Eastern, because we felt like it would have been an upset.

“It was a battle all afternoon between two very good teams,” she said. “I always tell the team this ‘In a five gamer, the first four sets don’t matter … It comes down to one 15-point game and how you handle that’ and we just made too many unforced errors.”

Van De Walle said the team had been focusing on aggressiveness and intensity in the week leading up to Friday night’s rematch with WMU, and the Falcons showed it outset jumping ahead of the Broncos 11-5.

Following a WMU timeout, Amber Mareski pushed BG’s lead to 12-5 but the Chippewas went on a 15-8 run to pull even with the Falcons at 20 apiece.

The two teams exchanged the next three points, but a dazzling array of great digs by BG was offset when CMU’s Shaylen Jackson pounded down one of her 13 kills to give them a 24-23 advantage.

The Chippewas closed out the set scoring six of the last eight points.

Van De Walle said game one played out the exact same way it did when they met one week ago.

“It was aggressive, the serving was good, the hitting was good, we looked confident and after 23 points I felt like our defense collapsed,” she said after the game. “We just did not dig enough balls to stay competitive with Western … It was hard fought 28 points up at their place.”

CMU took the momentum into game two and raced out to a 7-3 lead and never looked back en route to 30-19 victory.

Van De Walle said the team went into the locker room and talked about the importance of game three, but the refrain seemed ineffective for about the first 10 minutes when CMU grabbed a 23-7 advantage.

Finally, a CMU ball handling error ignited the Falcons as they used a 17-8 run, closing the margin to 28-24 but it wasn’t enough to stop the Chippewas from taking two of the last three points and their second consecutive sweep over BG.

Van De Walle said the team had too many let downs to come out with the victory.

“At this level and with competitiveness as this conference, you can’t do that,” she said. “We let down in game one and Western let down in game three, but they had such a solid lead that they would have had to completely fall apart.”

The Falcons bounced back Saturday night taking by taking the opening set against EMU, 30-22 behind Taylor Twite’s six kills.

After the Eagles captured games two and three 30-23 and 30-25, respectively, BG displayed a sense of urgency that was evident from the first serve.

EMU took a 3-1 lead, but the Falcons went on a 16-4 run and never looked back en route to a 30-16 win.

Playing in only their second five-game set of the season, BG secured a 3-1 lead with the help of three consecutive hitting errors by the Eagles’ Bethany Piccolini.

EMU answered with a 9-4 run to take a 10-7 lead, which forced Van De Walle to use a timeout.

But the combination of BG hitting errors and the powerful arm of Emily Busch, who finished the set with five kills and one assisted block at the net, proved to be too much for the Falcons to overcome as they fell in a 15-9 heartbreaker.

“We played great volleyball … in spurts,” Van De Walle said. “In the first and fourth sets we were hard to stop at the net.

“Then, in the final set we went soft and tipped too many balls,” she said. “Both teams looked tentative in their hitting until Busch got to the front row for Eastern. She was tough to stop.”

BG was led by Ashlei Nofzinger, who contributed career-highs in kills (19) and digs (22) while hitting .340 on the night, followed by Melissa Mohr’s 12 kills.

Emily Manser chipped in with 12 kills and 12 digs, and Corrie Mills came off the bench to provide a spark with eight kills and a .412 hitting percentage.

Amber Mareski and Chrissy Gothke finished with game-highs in assists (58) and digs (28) for the Falcons.

The losses dropped BG to fourth place in the Mid-American Conference West Division at 6-6 in the conference and 13-11 overall, a game behind Western Michigan.

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