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April 18, 2024

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Rockets grind out five set win over Falcons in Battle of I-75

Jack Walsh
Team huddles during a timeout

This evening, the Falcons fell in five sets to the rival up north, the Toledo Rockets. With a night of close calls and a test of mental toughness, the Falcons move to a 7-9 record, with some ground to make up in the Mid-American Conference standings.

Here’s how it happened.  

Set 1: 25-17 (Bowling Green)  

The first set started with an opening ace by the Rockets, but soon the Falcons jumped ahead with a 4-1 stretch. The Rockets slowly closed the gap, tying up the game 4-4. After some very long points, the Falcons were able to fight back and tie the game at five points each.  

This game of cat and mouse continued until the score reached 8-8 and the Falcons began to pull away with Amanda Otten behind the service line. Bowling Green continued to push with a 4-1 stretch, taking a 12-9 lead and forcing a Rocket timeout.  

Coming out of the timeout, the Falcons continued to stay ahead with now a 6-1 stretch. The score reaching 16-11, UT hoping to close the gap, calls for their second timeout. Out of the second Rocket timeout, sophomore Lauryn Hovey logged an ace and then logged another soon after.  

In a matter of time, the Falcons held at 22-12 lead over Toledo seemingly nearing the end of the first set. While UT chipped away at the gap, the Falcons remained on top and a kill by Alexis Mettille secured the first set for BGSU.  

Set 2: 28-26 (Toledo)  

To open the second set, Benedetta Marcon logged an ace and Mia Tyler added a kill to the scoresheet. A block by Jessica Andrews and Hovey extended the lead to 4-1, just to be followed up by the team’s fifth ace of the night, made possible by Mettille. Just in a matter of time, the Falcons had jumped into a 6-2 lead.  

After a 3-0 Rocket rally, the Falcons called for their first timeout of the match, still holding the 9-8 lead. Coming out of the timeout, Kat Mandly logged her second kill of the night and Alex Laboy added to the ace count, now at six. After a 3-0 Falcon run, the Rockets made the call for a timeout.  

Toledo eventually tied the match while behind the service line, each team with 14 points. With a close set ahead, Toledo’s Macy Hatkevich logged the Rocket’s first ace of the set, starting a back and forth scoring set.

With Lindsey LaPinta behind the service line, Bowling Green began to pull ahead, holding a 19-17 lead. At this point, the Rockets spent their last timeout anticipating the end of the set.  

After back-to-back kills and a block by Andrews, the Falcons extended their lead to 21-18. Following a challenged call in favor of the Rockets, the serve was handed to Toledo’s Claire Eiden which ended with a point for Toledo.  

Now only up by one point, 23-22, Bowling Green took this opportunity to call for a final timeout. A kill by Kat Mandly gave BGSU the match point, but back-to-back kills by the Rockets left a tied set, 24-24.

After a Toledo serve into the net and then an attack error on Bowling Green, UT pulled ahead for the first time in the set, 26-25. With an overserve by the Rockets, the set was once again tied up, 26-26. Two UT kills in a row ended the second set, with the match all tied up, 1-1. 

Set 3: 25-18 (Toledo)  

After taking turns scoring to start the third set, the Rockets began to tie up the Falcon defense, taking a 7-3. With a dominating start to this third set, Bowling Green took this time to call for a timeout.  

Extending their lead with seemingly a brand new offense, the Rockets reached a 11-4 deficit over the Falcons. The score finally reached 12-4 when Bowling Green called for a second timeout within five minutes.  

The scoring drive for Toledo came to a halt with a Rocket attack error, handing the ball back to Bowling Green. Back-to-back kills by Hovey was enough to force a Toledo timeout, the score now 12-7.  

Gaining some speed, the Falcons started to close the gap, coming within four points at the closest before UT once again pulled away, 17-12. This game of catch-up continued with a 3-0 Bowling Green run which forced the Rockets to take their final timeout.  

Coming out of the timeout, Bowling Green had the opportunity to strike, but fell short in receiving serves and sending the ball back over in-bounds. UT was able to and forge ahead, extending their lead to 24-17. With a final kill by Izzy Granger, Toledo secured the third set, 25-18.  

Set 4: 25-22 (Bowling Green)  

The fourth set opened with even more back-and-forth scoring, but showcased a more efficient BGSU offense. An ace by Laboy allowed the Falcons grab the lead, 7-5. By logging her second ace of the night, Laboy added to the Falcons’ rolling ace count, now at nine.  

Playing in step with Bowling Green, the Rockets came within one point of the tie, 11-10, then 12-11, and 13-12 soon after. Pulling out of the close set, Bowling Green was able to grab a three-point lead, 15-12, going into a media timeout.  

Following the timeout, the Falcons were able to secure a five-point lead, which is harder than it looks with such a close set. With BG up 18-13, this warranted concern for Toledo to call for the first timeout of the set.  

Coming out of the Rocket timeout, the Falcons continued the drive, holding the lead by a least four points until the score reached 22-18. At this point, UT called for their final timeout of the set.  

Keeping it to a close set, Toledo began to close the gap with the set within two points, 24-22. In response, Bowling Green decided to call for a timeout. Out of the timeout, a kill by Mandly ensured a fifth set in the Stroh.  

Set 5: 15-9 (Toledo) 

It’s no surprise to anyone that the final set started with some nail-biting back and forth scoring. The set followed the trend of the rest of the match until Toledo grabbed a two-point lead off of return errors by the Falcons. One more kill by the Rockets and a 5-2 score was enough to force a Bowling Green timeout.  

UT extended their lead with a five point deficit, marking the middle-point of the final set. With a 8-3 score, the Falcons called for their final timeout.  

In the last minutes of the Battle of I-75, the Falcons began to make up some ground, capped with an Laboy ace before a timeout was called by UT. With a 14-7 score, the Falcons were able to stay alive with a kill by Hovey, with Marcon behind the service line. Another kill by Hovey extended the set, but not by much. Toledo would eventually secure the final set 15-9 and take the Battle of I-75.  

Looking at the stat sheet, Jaden Walz logged a double-double and Hovey added a triple-double. Tonight’s leaders for kills were Hovey and Mandly with 14 each, and Laboy led the way with 17 digs. Aces were in great supply for Bowling Green with 10 aces shared by six different Falcons.  

Looking forward, the Falcons continue the homestand series, facing Ball State with a first serve starting at 6 p.m.  

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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