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April 11, 2024

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Sunday Setter: Tyler injury looms large, but Falcons keep MAC hopes alive

Sunday+Setter%3A+Tyler+injury+looms+large%2C+but+Falcons+keep+MAC+hopes+alive
Drake Harlett

Two parts make up one of the most iconic idioms in the entire English language.

“Death and taxes”; two guarantees in life for any person, no matter who you are.

Whoever wrote this idiom must have forgot a third part to it, which is “Bowling Green Volleyball loving to give their fanbase a wild ride”.

So far this year, the Falcons (8-7 MAC, 14-12 OVR), have gone through a season filled to the brim with adversity, injury, ups and downs.

This past weekend was no different, as BG, who ended the weekend with two straight set sweeps over the Akron Zips, who fell to 6-9 after coming in tied at 6-7 with BG, Central Michigan, and Northern Illinois, could not come out of the weekend scot-free.

How? An injury to Mia Tyler, who is second on the team in kills (261).

Tyler is a player who has started to come into her own, having put up double digit kills in 12 of the last 13 matches for BG, and is currently at a season average of 25.9% in the hitting percentage column.

That production is going to be hard to replicate, especially with the pressure to reach the 2023 Mid-American Conference Tournament with only three matches to go and a CMU team nipping hard at BG’s heels.

And while the current extent of Tyler’s injury, which was deemed a lower leg injury, is unknown, we do know that the orange and brown are down her as well as Petra Indrova, Amanda Otten and Edyta Waclawczyk, which is starting to make the offensive weapons thin in the reserves, especially at the outside hitter position.

So who are Falcon fans going to witness take over Tyler’s role?

None other than captain Hannah Best.

“It is the biggest honor to be apart of this team and to go fight out there for those girls,” Best said postgame. “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.”

Not only did Best play hard on Saturday, she also played effective.

Sure, Best is maybe not going to blow anyone anyway with physical ability, but what makes her a serious weapon is her volleyball IQ.

That was certainly on display in Saturday’s win, as Best was one of three Falcons to reach double-figures in kills (Lauryn Hovey 16, Kat Mandly 12).

“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.”

Now certainly Falcon fans are going to want to see this kind of performance happen again, especially with the first-place in the MAC East Division Buffalo Bulls rolling into town in the midst of a three-game win streak.

But this weekend was a season-saving/potential season-changing one for the orange and brown, as the two losses by the Zips have realistically knocked them out of serious contention of the final quarterfinalist spot.

Then there is NIU, who suffered back to back losses to the hands of the Toledo Rockets, sending them as well to 6-9 in MAC play and extending the Huskie losing streak to seven in a row.

So now the race for the final quarterfinal spot is realistically down to two- CMU and BG.

If the tournament started today, the Falcons would be in, as they hold a half game advantage in the overall record over the Chippewas.

But that does not mean the Falcons can take a relaxing breath.

In fact, it’s the opposite.

Feeling the pressure to get in, a huge series coming up, and injuries mounting have created a world in which BG has to dial in their focus to a level not even seen yet this season.

So how are they going to do this?

Appreciating the moments.

“We are going to celebrate this one, but we know that their is still a lot of work to do,” said DelPiombo. “I think we really showed who we can be, and we’re just going to have to continue to chop wood and carry water.”

With three matches to go, BG has two this coming weekend against Buffalo, followed by one with Miami the week after, all within the confines of the Stroh Center.

Meanwhile for CMU, they also end the year at home, as the Ohio Bobcats roll into town this coming weekend for another huge series, which features a red-hot Chippewa team (winners of six straight), taking on a Bobcat team that is 10-5 in MAC play, followed by a single match against last place Eastern Michigan.

So, with all of the headlines, drama, and littlest of separation between these two teams, it may be a HUGE challenge for the orange and brown to stay completely focused, especially with their available personnel starting to get really thin.

But at the end of the day, only one thing matters now for the Falcons.

Friday.

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

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