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Semifinal sweep: Falcons advance to MAC Championship with straight set sweep of Buffalo in semifinals

Drake Harlett
The team celebrating after a point

Sometimes you just have a team’s number.

The number that BGSU Volleyball identified for Buffalo?


That number is the number of sets it took for Bowling Green to beat the Bulls once again this season, but this time in the 2023 MAC Tournament Semifinals, taking care of the blue and white in straight sets (25-17, 25-21, 25-21).

For the orange and brown, the win made them 3/3 this season in matchups against the #2 seed Bulls, who in 10 sets this year were only able to win one of the 10.

In the first set, the two teams exchanged points back and forth, with BG holding a slim lead for the majority of the set. However at 18-17, BG put together a strong 7-0 run to close the set at 25-17, with Alex Laboy putting up a pair of aces within the run.

From there, the energy in the building seemed to be sucked out of the Buffalo crowd, as BG, despite playing in closer sets, felt as if they were always in control.

Why is that?

Middles, middles, middles.

“Our middles were great tonight; they really opened things up on the offense to relieve our pins,” said associate head coach Alex DelPiombo. “I thought Jess (Jessica Andrews) and Lex (Alexis Mettille) were really efficient.”

After a performance last night where the pins (Kat Mandly and Mia Tyler) were at their best, Sunday was a night for the middles to shine bright, as Mettille and Andrews each registered six kills en route to the win.

But once again, the star of the night on the offensive end was Lauryn Hovey, who once again registered a 20 kill performance in just the three sets, ending the night with only four errors on 28 total attacks for an impressive 57.1% hitting percentage.

All of those numbers though are not possible without a great transition game, and that is what Jaden Walz did once again tonight, following up her career-high of 66 assists on Saturday with a 39 assist, seven dig performance.

Laboy paced the defense once again for BG with 11 digs, while Walz added the seven as the second-highest.

“I thought we really played a complete game tonight,” said Walz. “We all pitched in and did our jobs, we knew that with Buffalo we could have some success because their middles had a tendency to bail a bit and let up some deep seams, so we had the ability to have some success on offense.”

For Buffalo, their season comes to a close in unceremonious fashion. Former Falcon Katrin Trebichavska ended the night as the team leader in kills with 13, while freshman Manoela Forlin added 10.

Mandy Leigh paced the Bulls’ offense in assists with 33, while her older sister, Abby Leigh, led the way in blocks with three.

As a team, BGSU held significant advantages in many statistical battles, headlined by the hitting percentage, where BG finished with a .434%, while Buffalo ended with a .272%.

BG also finished +8 in kills (47-39), +7 in assists (45-38), +9 in digs (31-22), and +2 in aces (5-3).

The miracle turnaround of a season marches on for another game, as the Falcons, who have defeated the #3 seed Ball State Cardinals and now the #2 seed Buffalo Bulls, get the opportunity to win back-to-back conference championships Monday night at 6:30, as the team faces the #1 seed Western Michigan Broncos, who are 19-0 against MAC foes following a 3-0 win over Toledo.

But not only do the Falcons have a chance to win back-to-back conference titles, the Falcons also have made an appearance in the conference title game for the fifth straight season, the longest streak by any MAC team since the Ohio Bobcats made eight straight title appearances from 2003-10.

Catch the call of the 2023 MAC Championship on 88.1 FM WBGU, as Steve Iwanek (me) has the call starting at 6:15 for the Falcon Media Sports Network pregame show, followed by first serve at 6:30.

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



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