BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - In a rematch of last season's Mid-American Conference Tournament championship match, the Northern Illinois volleyball team came out on the short end Saturday night at the Stroh Center with a 3-0 loss to Bowling Green.
The loss, which snapped NIU's four-match winning streak, drops the Huskies to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in conference, while the Falcons move to 5-8 overall and 2-0 in the MAC. Despite 10 team blocks, NIU's offense was unable to gain any traction against BGSU, as they were held to a .123 hitting percentage and 28 kills in defeat.
"Every match is going to have its bumps," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden. "Bowling Green is a really good team. We also have to realize that we have to play our best every night when every other team is going to give us their best."
Much like Thursday night's match at Western Michigan, the Huskies got into an early hole with BGSU opening the first set on a 5-1 run behind two kills each from Jelena Sunjic and Lindsey Butterfield. NIU quickly clawed back to tie things at 7-7 following a 4-0 run keyed by two Jenna Radtke-Lauren Zielinski combo blocks, along with a Mary Grace Kelly kill and a Mackenzie Roddy ace. With the score tied at 8-8, the Falcons moved back ahead with a 3-0 rally to make it 11-8. The Huskies once again battled back - which included NIU's own 3-0 run - and eventually tied things back up at 16-16. However, four-straight BGSU points turned the momentum back to the Falcons, who cruised to a 25-20 win in the opening set.
BGSU got on the Huskies early again in the second by staking out a quick 4-1 edge. NIU's deficit grew larger when the Falcons used that momentum to make it 8-3 and force an early Huskie timeout. The Huskies got back to 11-8 following a Kelly kill and a BGSU error, only to have the Falcons score four consecutive points to push their lead to 15-8. NIU again got back to within three at 18-15, but BGSU's offensive firepower was too much, as the Huskies dropped the second set, 25-21.
In dire need of a momentum shift, the Huskies hung tough early in the third set and stayed within striking distance despite the 5-4 BGSU lead. Similarly to the previous two stanzas, though, the Falcons got some breathing room with a 4-0 rally to put NIU behind, 9-4. The Huskies own 3-0 rally, which included back-to-back kills from Sarah Angelos and a Radtke ace, got NIU back to within 9-7. Unfortunately for the Huskies, that is all the closer they could get, as the Falcons pulled away with a 9-5 run that allowed BGSU to earn a 25-19 third set win and the sweep.
Kelly led the Huskies with 12 kills in the match. Radtke finished the night with six total blocks, coupled with Zielinski's four.
The Huskies open their home slate of MAC matches Friday, Oct. 4, when they host the Eastern Michigan Eagles in a 7 p.m. contest inside Victor E. Court.