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Resilient Falcons sweep Zips, improve to 8-7 in MAC play

Keira Ellenberger

2023 has been a season for Bowling Green Volleyball in which the team has just had to find ways to climb over life hurdles.

Coming into Saturday’s match against the Akron Zips, who were looking for a much needed series split and were hosting their senior day, the Falcons were without Mia Tyler, who left late in Friday’s match with a lower leg injury.

None to worry though Falcon fans- the team always have the “Best” solution.

Junior Hannah Best ended with 10 kills, Lauryn Hovey paced the way with 16, and Kat Mandly added a dozen en route to BGSU’s second straight set sweep of the Zips on Saturday afternoon (25-22, 25-23, 25-17).

Unlike Friday’s contest, the Zips came into Saturday playing much cleaner volleyball, finishing the match with a 22.3% hitting percentage, a huge improvement from the 7.5% they hit Friday.

But the Falcons were just a bit better, hitting 33.7% and ending the night +12 in the kills battle (48-36).

Now many fans were worried abut the obvious health status of Tyler, but also about how the orange and brown could match the output that Tyler typically puts out, which is this season an average of roughly 10 kills a night.

But Best played at her best when called upon, as the junior from Toledo stepped right into her role and finished with the 10 kills as mentioned earlier, one of three Falcons to once again crack double figures.

“Hannah is just the definition of someone who chops wood and carries water for us,” Associate Head Coach Alex DelPiombo said postgame. “She knew what her role was, she did not flinch, and just played at her best; I’m really proud of her.”

With the status of Tyler being uncertain moving forward, the Falcons are going to be calling upon Best to be a valuable contributor for the rest of the year.

However with this team, no one is going to be phased anymore by adversity.

“It is the biggest honor to be apart of this team and to go fight out there for those girls,” Best said. “I obviously am concerned for Mia, but I will do whatever is called upon from the team to go out and play my hardest. It’s not just the wins and the game that matters, it’s also what we do off the floor that makes it an honor to be apart of this group.”

In other statistics, Jaden Walz once again led the way in assists with 38, along with adding six digs.

Back row play was once again a vital part of BG’s success, as after a 47 dig performance on Friday, the Falcons added two more to that on Saturday with 49. Alex Laboy paced the way once again in digs with 15, while Hovey added eight and Benedetta Marcon added seven.

For the Zips, their senior day was spoiled in terms of winning, but senior outside hitter Faith Johnson did finish with a double-double of 12 kills and 12 digs. Also in the match, Johnson eclipsed the 1,000 kills mark of her career.

With the series sweep, BGSU has concluded the road portion of the regular season, and now finishes the regular season with three home matches.

Friday and Saturday this coming week, the Falcons host Buffalo, who currently sits in first place in the MAC East Division at 12-3.

BG however, if the MAC Tournament started today, would be in over fellow 8-7 MAC school Central Michigan, due to overall record advantage.

A look at the current standings (courtesy of

2023 Women’s Volleyball Standings
Western Michigan 15-0 1.000 25-2 .926 12-0 9-1 4-1 W15
Buffalo 12-3 .800 22-5 .815 11-1 6-3 5-1 W3
Ball State 11-4 .733 14-12 .538 9-1 4-7 1-4 L2
Ohio 10-5 .667 15-12 .556 7-5 5-4 3-3 W2
Toledo 10-5 .667 12-14 .462 4-7 7-5 1-2 W2
Bowling Green 8-7 .533 14-12 .538 6-4 7-5 1-3 W2
Central Michigan 8-7 .533 14-13 .519 8-1 4-8 2-4 W6
Akron 6-9 .400 11-15 .423 5-6 4-7 2-2 L3
Northern Illinois 6-9 .400 8-19 .296 4-6 2-9 2-4 L7
Kent State 2-13 .133 6-20 .231 1-8 3-9 2-3 L2
Miami 1-14 .067 5-22 .185 0-10 4-7 1-5 L7
Eastern Michigan 1-14 .067 3-24 .111 1-6 0-12 2-6 L2

The final stretch of the season will be a fascinating battle to watch take place.

Join Steve Iwanek on FALCON RADIO on Friday night at 5:45 p.m. for the pregame show, followed by the 6 p.m. first serve between the Bulls and Falcons at the Stroh Center.

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

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