Stories courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments
Akron 3, Miami 0
– The Akron offense was firing on all cylinders Friday night as the Zips pushed their winning streak to five and secured a place in the Mid-American Conference Tournament with a decisive 3-0 road win over Miami.
UA made good use of the balanced attack that has worked so well of late, getting solid offensive production from all six of its starters. The Zips and the RedHawks got the same number of swings, but Akron converted 14 more than its opponent.
Leading the way was Alex Cocklin with 11 kills, followed closely by Tina Dimitrijevs with nine and Kelsey Wilson with eight. Chelsea Harvey and Alex Wiederholt each threw down six, and Morgan Kuhn kept it rolling with 34 assists. Kuhn is now just two assists away from 3,000 for her career.
With the victory, Akron has effectively locked up its spot in the MAC Tournament starting on Nov. 16 at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. If the tournament started this weekend, the Zips would be the No. 5 seed. With several teams neck and neck in the middle of the pack, it will remain to be seen exactly how the seeding will play out over the course of the last three regular season matches.
The Zips set the tone early in the first set, exploding for five unanswered points backed by the serve of Harvey. Akron forced a pair of Miami errors to put together a mini 4-0 run a few plays later to hold a quick 10-4 advantage.
Akron's greatest lead of 10 would come at the 22-12 mark when Harvey and Wilson combined for a key block and force the RedHawks' second timeout of the set. After three straight Miami scores, a Harvey kill would get the Zips back on track. Ashley Holder came in to serve for Wiederholt and delivered an ace on set point to pick up the 25-16 victory.
The second period started out slow, but Akron was able to pull ahead at 9-5 on four consecutive scoring plays. The Zips would never relinquish the lead from that point on, steadily stringing together points until Kuhn dumped one over the net to capitalize on set point No. 3. UA is now 10-0 on the year when leading two sets to none.
Miami made sure the third set was the most hotly contest of the evening, keeping the score to within four or less. Akron did not really break away until two RedHawk errors made it 19-15 in the Zips' favor.
MU fought back with four straight points to tie the score at 21, but UA had no interest in making the match longer than it had to be. Four consecutive Akron points highlighted by kills from Harvey and Dimitrijevs would be enough for Akron to capture its eighth shutout of the season.
Not to be outdone by the offense, Akron's defense stepped up in the win as well, headlined by Jill Paluch's 19 digs. As a team, the Zips did not post a single receiving error in 42 attempts.
Akron will be back in action Saturday night taking on the East Division's second place team in Bowling Green at 5 p.m.. The Falcons (16-9, 11-1 MAC) came out on top in five sets over Buffalo Friday night.
Bowling Green 3, Buffalo 2
Bowling Green, Ohio – For the sixth time in the last nine matches, the Bowling Green State University volleyball team found itself in the middle of a five-set match. And for the sixth straight time, the Falcons found a way to pull out the contest, defeating Buffalo 25-17, 21-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9 Friday night in the Stroh Center.
Bowling Green retained sole possession of second place in the Mid-American Conference, improving to 16-9 overall and 11-2 in conference play. The Falcons clinched a top five seed for the MAC Tournament in two weeks and inched closer to one of the top two seeds.
Buffalo entered the match at just 2-10 in conference play but the Bulls have always given Bowling Green fits. The Falcons won a hard-fought four-setter over Buffalo earlier this year after being swept in the season series by the Bulls a year ago. Even after Bowling Green rolled to a 25-17 victory in the first set, Buffalo never folded.
The Falcons hit .542 in the opening stanza, recording 14 kills on 24 swings with just one attack error. Although Bowling Green had just 10 digs and went without a block in that first frame, the offensive firepower was enough for the Falcons to roll through the opening set.
But the offense began to flounder in the second set and the Falcons hit just .091 in that frame. The defense was not producing either as Bowling Green had only 11 digs and again went without a block as Buffalo evened the match with a 25-21 win.
It looked like Buffalo might take control of the match for good in the third set as the Bulls built a 17-14 lead and were poised to go ahead in the contest. But Leah Shaw sparked the Falcons with three kills to get the set tied up at 18-18. The frame remained tied at 22-22 before Danielle Tonyan and Lindsey Butterfield had back-to-back kills and Ashley Dunn closed it out with an ace for a 25-22 win.
Even though the Falcons had momentum heading into the fourth set, Buffalo struck back quickly scoring the first four points of the frame and never looking back. The Bulls built an eight-point lead and held on for the 25-19 win to force a fifth set.
Once the fifth set began, Bowling Green settled into a comfort zone. The Falcons never trailed and used a seven-point spurt after the score was tied at 3-3 to pull away. BGSU had three blocks during the run and a pair of kills from Butterfield. The Falcons ended the match with a block for the 15-9 win.
After going without a block in the first two sets, the Falcons had 10.0 over the final three sets, five each from Shaw and Kaitlyn Skinner. Shaw had a strong all-around match, adding 10 kills and a career-best four aces. She was one of four players with at least 10 kills as Tonyan and Paige Penrod had 15 apiece and Butterfield ended with 13.
The Falcons hit .232 for the match, but most of that came on the strength of that .542 first set and a .375 fifth. Bowling Green had a season-high 10 aces in the contest with only six serving errors. Buffalo also had 10 aces but had twice as many service errors with 12.
Buffalo falls to 8-17 on the year and 2-11 in MAC play with the loss. Bowling Green will host one of the hottest teams in the league Saturday evening for Senior Night. The Falcons will face Akron, winners of five straight, at 5 p.m. Recognition of the team’s four seniors will take place following the conclusion of the contest
The Northern Illinois volleyball team started a three-match Mid-American Conference West Division road trip on the right foot with a 25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21 win over Toledo Friday night at Savage Arena. The Huskies (17-12, 8-5 MAC) racked up .225 to .171 hitting, 7-3 aces and 18-5 blocking advantages to earn their 13th win in their last 15 meetings with the Rockets (8-18, 2-11 MAC).
The biggest factor in the match was NIU's blocking at the net, which helped force 31 UT hitting errors - NIU had only 16. The Huskies' 18 blocks were a season-high and the most they've had in a match since Head Coach Ray Gooden took over the program in 2002. The Huskie middle blockers more than did their jobs as Sarah Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) had eight blocks (all block assists) as did Mary Kurisch (West Salem, Wis./La Crosse) (three solo, five assists), who also had 11 kills on 27 errorless swings for a solid .407 hitting percentage.
"A big chunk of blocks came because of solid serving that put Toledo in tough situations," said Gooden of the Huskies, who evened their road record this season to 6-6, 3-3 in MAC play. "We made some good moves in other situations. It was nice to win that battle at the net against a traditionally strong blocking team in Toledo.
"Mary and Sarah did a really good job of blocking and orchestrating the front row. It led to a lot of positive plays, especially with Mary offensively. She had a good hitting performance as well."
Joining the block party with four apiece were MacKenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon), Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) and Emily Paschke (Winfield, Ill./West Chicago Community). Also adding to the tally were Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) with three and Sam Grams (Forest Park, Ill./Fenwick) with one.
Romo (14) and Roddy (12) chipped in double digit kills as well to lead the Huskie attack. Roddy also tied libero Amber Walker (Juneau, Alaska/Juneau Douglas/Western Oregon) with 17 digs on the night to round out a well-balanced performance.
NIU overcame a 5-1 deficit in the first set with a 16-5 run that gave the Huskies an insurmountable 17-10 lead. The run was started by a Kurisch kill and featured three kills each from Kurisch and Roddy.
Similar to the first set, the Huskies had to dig out of a 9-4 hole in the second. A pair of Roddy kills and NIU blocks put the Huskies back in it and tied the match at 9-9. The teams then exchanged points until an ace by Sue Hayes (Evergreen Park, Ill./Mother McAuley) and kill by Angelos gave NIU a 19-17 edge. A few plays later a Romo kill and Kurisch stuff block pushed NIU's lead to 23-19 and helped the Huskies grab a 2-0 match lead heading into the break.
With their backs against the wall at home, the Rockets grabbed the third set to prevent a sweep by once again jumping out to an early lead. Down 14-6, NIU bounced back to get within one at 16-15 after a UT attack error, but the Rockets used a quick 5-1 burst to help force a fourth set.
In the final stanza, a back and forth affair leaned the Huskies' way after a 17-17 tie was broken with an 8-4 NIU run to end the match. Roddy started it with her only ace of the night and added two kills during the spurt, as did Kurisch and Romo.
"Being able to overcome those early deficits was good for us," Gooden said. "We talked a lot about working through things this week -- working through ruts and staying positive. We had a tough third set, but we did a really nice job of staying together to come back from those early deficits."
The Huskies will have a rare day off in Muncie, Ind. Saturday before playing at Ball State (13-13, 6-7 MAC) Sunday at 12 PM CT. The match will have live stats and video through BallStateSports.com.
Western Michigan 3, Ball State 0
MUNCIE, Ind. - The Western Michigan volleyball team recorded its third straight 3-0 victory in conference play, defeating the Ball State Cardinals 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-11) at Worthen Arena on Friday. With the win, the Broncos improve to 17-9 on the season, 10-3 in the Mid-American Conference.
The Broncos hounded the Cardinals defensively, out-digging them 67-51 and holding Ball State to a miniscule .085 hitting percentage. Junior Ali Gossen led the defensive effort for the Broncos with a match- and career-high 19 digs, while setter Terin Norris recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 28 assists and 14 digs. Lena Oliver had 12 digs.
Offensively, Jessica Brown led the Broncos with 12 kills, while Gossen and Richelle Ranney each notched eight kills. The Broncos served tough throughout the match, with Norris and Kaycee Acree each recording three aces. Caroline Rose added one for a total of seven aces for the Broncos.
As was the case for all three sets, the Broncos jumped out to a big lead on the Cardinals in the first thanks to their ability to frustrate opponents defensively. Carlee Berland notched the first kill of the night for the Broncos, who started the set on a 5-1 run that was capped by a kill from Brown. Gossen blasted a kill a few points later to make it 9-3, and Stephenee Yancy put one away to force a BSU timeout as the Broncos stretched the lead to 11-3. Norris would score on a dump kill to make it 15-6, and a Ball State attack error on the next point gave the Broncos a double-digit lead. Norris and Brown scored kills on back-to-back points to make it 19-12, and WMU eventually took the set when Brown slammed one home to make it 25-17.
Things would start out somewhat evenly in the second set, and though the Broncos had control throughout, the Cardinals simply would not go away. The set was tied at 5-5 at one point, but the Broncos rattled off five straight points - including kills on consecutive points from Ranney, Yancy, and Gossen - to take a 10-5 lead. The Broncos would be the first to 15 points in the set, as Gillian Asque recorded a kill to make it 15-10, and the first to 20 points when Gossen took a set from Oliver and recorded a kill. The Cardinals would storm back and pull to within 24-22, but Ranney quashed the rally with a kill to set the score at 25-22 and clinch a two-set lead.
WMU jumped all over the Cardinals in the third set, opening on a 10-1 run that included all three of Norris's service aces and was capped by a kill from Gossen. Gossen stretched the lead to 12-4 with a kill, and the deficit reached double-digits when BSU's Hayley Benson recorded an attack error to give the Broncos a 20-10 lead. Ranney kept the lead at 10 with a kill two points later, and Brown helped the Broncos double up on the Cardinals with a kill to make it 22-11. Acree recorded an ace to give the Broncos match point, and Ranney sealed the deal one point later with a kill.
The Broncos will be back in action on Saturday when they face the Toledo Rockets.