Falcons fall one game short of NCAA tournament


KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Bowling Green State University volleyball team made a late rally in the Mid-American Conference tournament championship game Monday, reflecting their season’s journey, by coming back after a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth set.

Despite the strong push, the Falcons came up short in the five-set thriller with Western Michigan taking the 3-2 final, 25-16, 25-21, 14-25, 15-25, 15-7. The Broncos will get the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Bowling Green closed out the season with wins in 12 of their last 14 matches and became the first six seed to make the MAC Tournament final since 2017.

Lauryn Hovey and Jaden Walz were named to the All-Tournament Team for the Falcons. Hovey recorded her third straight 20-kill match, finishing with 21 in addition to 12 digs for her sixth double-double of the season while landing a career-high six aces.

Walz added 48 assists, four block assists and three digs in the final match. Alex Laboy recorded a career-high 25 digs for her second 20-dig match of the season.

Alexis Mettille added six block assists for the Falcons, assisting the Falcons to 10 blocks as a team. Mia Tyler landed 17 kills for the Falcons, second on the team, while adding a season-high five digs to her stat line.

On Sunday, the Falcons advanced to the MAC championship for the fifth straight year by sweeping Buffalo, 25-17, 25-21, 25-21. The Falcons logged a .434 hitting percentage

Hovey led the attack for the Falcons with her fifth 20-kill match of the season, and fourth in the last five matches, while maintaining a career-best .571 hitting percentage.

Walz set the attack with 37 assists while adding seven digs. Laboy topped the stat sheet for digs with 11 while landing a team-high two aces.

BGSU has now won 11 straight matches against Buffalo, including nine straight sets this season.

Saturday, the Falcons advanced to the semifinals with a thrilling five-set win over Ball State. The Falcons took the first two sets, including hitting .478 in the second set while holding Ball State to a minus .032 mark.

However, the Cardinals came firing back and forced not only five sets, but extra points in each of the last three sets played, but BGSU prevailed 25-21, 25-13, 26-28, 26-28, 16-14.

The Falcons lit up the stat sheet in every facet. Walz posted an impressive 66 assists, a new career-high, along with 11 digs for her 11th double-double of the season, plus she had four ces, three block assists and a kill..

Hovey added a double-double of her own with 28 kills and 11 digs. Tyler landed 20 kills as well followed by Kat Mandly’s (Perrysburg) 19 all while the Falcons maintained a .320 hitting percentage as a team.

Laboy and Benedetta Marcon both reached double-digit digs with 15 and 12, respectively. The Falcons capped off the night with 11 team blocks, including four from both Mettille and Helen Wilford.

The Falcons registered 77 kills, a season-high and the most since having 70 against Ball State in the 2022 MAC championship.

The win marked the first five-set win over a MAC opponent for the Falcons this season.

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