BG volleyball team defeats nationally ranked BYU in five sets following two losses in weekend tournament


Danielle Tonyan and a teammate blocks a spike from a BYU player during the Falcons’ victory Saturday.


One point was all that separated the Falcon volleyball team from a new notch on a historical season. The score was 14-8, BG led Brigham Young University, ranked 13th in the nation, in the fifth and final set to 15 points. The student section roared and Freddie and Frieda urged the stadium to be louder. After four straight points by BYU, it happened.

Libero Ashley Dunn bumped a pass to outside hitter Paige Penrod, and Penrod slammed the ball off the foot of a BYU front row defender. The Falcons beat No. 13 BYU, the first defeat of a ranked opponent since the American Volleyball Coaches Association rankings began in 1982.

The Falcons had made a comeback, after falling just short of winning in the first two sets, BYU entered the third set looking confident, but Head Coach Danijela Tomic had other plans.

“Our philosophy is swing,” Tomic said. “At the end of the match we have to swing and be aggressive. We started making better choices too.”

Lindsey Butterfield led the team with a .290 attack percentage, and Penrod led the team with 16 kills. Multiple freshmen saw playing time this weekend, but Jelena Sunjic made the biggest impression with 12 kills and three blocks.

The Falcon front row became a brick wall, and Kaitlyn Skinner and Danielle Tonyan were the tallest columns, as they combined for 16 total blocks. The Falcons had 64 kills all night and four falcons reached double digits.

“The first two sets, we were going through the motions a lot— making plays but just spinning in mud,” Penrod said.

Between the 2nd and 3rd set Tomic and team captain Butterfield had a talk with the team about their effort on the court and how the team needed to respond more aggressively, Penrod said.

“After our defensive mind changed that’s when everything started clicking because we started getting good balls and touches, getting good sets that we could convert into kills,” she said.

The Falcons played three games this weekend against Marquette, 25 Creighton and 13 BYU. Despite the losing the first two matches, Tomic said she was proud of the effort given by her team.

“I think they performed well,” Tomic said after the game against Marquette. “They performed point for point, I am just very proud of our team, this was fine high quality volleyball and I told our players we have nothing to be ashamed of.”

BG lost the match 3-1.

The Creighton match went similarly, The Falcons were able to be competitive with the Blue Jays, but lost in three straight sets.

“[Creighton] played better at the end of each set,” Tomic said. “We have to learn to go full sets.”

Amid the craziness the victory over BYU brought the Stroh, coach Tomic walked over to Butterfield and Penrod, hugged them and said, “Welcome back.”

The Falcons will return the court this weekend when they compete in a tournament at the University of Notre Dame.