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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Sunday Setter: The moment is here: season-defining series against Zips looms after split week in Michigan

Sunday+Setter%3A+The+moment+is+here%3A+season-defining+series+against+Zips+looms+after+split+week+in+Michigan
Drake Harlett

In the course of a collegiate season, there are always days you want to repeat and days you want to forget, sometimes both in victory and in defeat.

That narrative is no different for Bowling Green Volleyball- a season that has featured some really exciting moments, win streaks, career-high performances, as well as some really low lows, losing streaks, and matches to forget.

But here we are.

Here we are in the final days of the month of October, just three weeks away from the Mid-American Conference Tournament, which is closing in on being held in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the home of the currently undefeated Western Michigan Broncos.

WMU figures to be the host barring an unexpected collapse, as the field has just not been able to crack the code on how to reign in the Broncos.

A look at the conference standings as of Oct. 29 (courtesy of getsomemaction.com):

SCHOOL CONF CPCT. OVERALL PCT. HOME AWAY NEUTRAL STREAK
Western Michigan 13-0 1.000 23-2 .920 10-0 9-1 4-1 W13
Ball State 11-2 .846 14-10 .583 9-1 4-5 1-4 W2
Buffalo 10-3 .769 20-5 .800 9-1 6-3 5-1 W1
Ohio 8-5 .615 13-12 .520 5-5 5-4 3-3 L1
Toledo 8-5 .615 10-14 .417 4-7 5-5 1-2 L2
Bowling Green 6-7 .462 12-12 .500 6-4 5-5 1-3 L1
Central Michigan 6-7 .462 12-13 .480 8-1 2-8 2-4 W4
Akron 6-7 .462 11-13 .458 5-4 4-7 2-2 L1
Northern Illinois 6-7 .462 8-17 .320 4-4 2-9 2-4 L5
Kent State 2-11 .154 6-18 .250 1-6 3-9 2-3 W1
Miami 1-12 .077 5-20 .200 0-10 4-5 1-5 L5
Eastern Michigan 1-12 .077 3-22 .120 1-6 0-10 2-6 W1

For reference, the two division winners receive an automatic quarterfinal round bye in the conference tournament, the top overall team hosts, and the best four of the rest, based on conference record, are the four quarterfinalists.

This year’s battle to be a member of the four quarterfinalist field is as fierce as it’s ever been: a 6-7 BGSU team, along with the 6-7 Akron Zips, the 6-7 Northern Illinois Huskies, and the 6-7 Central Michigan Chippewas, all fighting to get themselves into the conference dance.

And yet, only one team can make it out of that crop, at least in terms of the most likely scenarios.

As a MACtion lover, these next two and a half weeks are going to be fascinating. But for fans of the Falcons and the team themselves?

They are just keeping their eyes on the very next opponent.

“It is just worrying about the match that we have on that Friday or that Thursday and not really thinking too far into the future,” said setter Jaden Walz last week on “Diggin’ Deep”. “That’s kind of what’s helped us in the past- we never really talked about the MAC Tournament, the MAC Championship or anything like that and especially this season, it’s important for us to just take it game by game.”

That mentality is going to have to become the absolute reality of every member of the orange and brown this coming week, as the Falcons make the trip out east to Akron to take on the Zips in what should be a season-defining series for both these teams.

Akron is coming off a split weekend that saw them sweep NIU in straight sets on Friday, followed by a four-set, competitive loss to 23-2 WMU.

Meanwhile for BG, they are coming off a week that saw them take care of lowly Eastern Michigan in straight sets on Thursday, followed by a highly competitive, gut-wrenching loss to CMU in five sets on Friday.

So here’s the real question: what is the best case scenario for the orange and brown?

For me and the vast majority of others, I’d say that a successful series sweep, followed by losses by NIU to Toledo this coming week, as well as at least a split of CMU’s series with Kent State, who is coming off an impressive four set win over Toledo on Saturday, would be ideal.

Here’s why.

BG’s schedule after this weekend features a slate of three home matches to end the regular season, two of which come against the MAC East Division’s first place Buffalo Bulls, who are 10-3 in MAC play and are gearing up for a title run.

Following that is Miami, who BG handled down in Oxford a couple of weeks ago, but, as anyone can understand, could present a challenge.

Meanwhile for Akron, following this series with BG, their schedule is flipped, as they take on the RedHawks in a weekend series, followed by a single match with Buffalo.

The odds, in the event of a split this coming week or a series sweep in the wrong direction, would make the statistical likelihood very dim for a BG team looking to just give themselves a chance to go after a repeat.

But all of that hypothetical drama means nothing right now for BG or for Akron.

All that matters is this weekend, and the battle for victory, at least on paper, is going to be fierce.

On the stat sheet, BG holds narrow advantages over the Zips in categories such as kills (12.81 per set vs 12.28), opponent kills (12.16 per set vs 12.45), and opponent assists (11.22 per set vs 11.49).

Vise versa, the Zips do lead BG in battles such as service aces (2.05 per set vs 1.79) and digs (13.81 per set vs 12.52), which makes for a battle that will come down to the tiny details.

Tiny details? Most certainly will be a point of emphasis this week at practice for the Falcons.

“We just have to remind ourselves that we need to continue to be consistent,” associate head coach Alison Cooke said postgame after Friday’s loss to CMU. “We were just off in areas when we needed to be at our best, so we need to learn how to get to that point.”

Friday was a game that BG will potentially look back on and say “we needed it”.

But, as said before, the only thing that matters for BG is what is in front of them- the Akron Zips.

A series that has the potential to propel this team into a confidence-high that could shift the dynamic of the MAC Tournament, or could be the potential dagger that ends an rollercoaster year.

Look, some people love rollercoasters, and others hate it. All that we need to know now is that our seatbelts are clicked.

Why?

This final stretch is going to be a wild ride.

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

 

 

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