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Published: Thursday, 10/18/2012

Falcons volleyball team undefeated in MAC play

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University volleyball team has won its first eight Mid-American Conference games this season, which you would think would please Falcons coach Danijela Tomic.

“Coaches are perpetually unhappy and unsatisfied,” Tomic said with a laugh.

Happy or not, Tomic had helped turn around the fortunes of the Falcons, who after winning just six league matches last season are 8-0 for just the fourth time in the program’s history and the first time since the 2006 team started 10-0.

“We are winning, but we are not improving, and that’s not a good sign,” Tomic said. “We have to continue to get better individually and as a team if we want to keep winning."

Tomic took over as BG’s coach for Denise Van De Walle and found that the cupboard wasn’t bare. A number of young players saw action for the Falcons the past two seasons, and their experience as helped Bowling Green to a 13-7 record.

“I think we have grown up a lot as a team,” junior defensive specialist Ashley Dunn said. “We would make some freshman and sophomore mistakes, but this year I think we have grown a lot."

“We’re trying to limit our errors, and I think we’re doing that more than in years past.”

Among the leaders for the Falcons are junior Paige Penrod, who ranks second in the MAC with 4.03 kills per set and is second with 0.32 service aces per set; junior Danielle Tonyan, who stands ninth in the league with 3.29 kills per set; junior setter Laura Avila, who is fourth in assists with 10.53 per set; junior Kaitlyn Skinner, who is third in blocks with 1.12 per set; and Dunn, a Bowling Green native who averages 4.38 digs per set to rank seventh in the MAC.

Tomic likes the mental toughness she said her team has shown routinely during its recent winning streak.

“Individually we can have players have bad games, but as a team we find a way to win, and that’s a sign of mental toughness and maturity,” she said. “We believe we can come back, no matter what the score is. That gives us a heart attack on the bench, but they believe.”

The Falcons will look to keep winning as they host a pair of matches at the Stroh Center this weekend, with Ball State coming to town Friday and archrival Toledo visiting Saturday.

“After the first weekend, when we beat Ohio, we knew we weren’t going to be a surprise to the league,” Tomic said. “The more we play, the more coaches can scout us and get material on us, learn our tendencies.

“So we have to improve the weaknesses we have. And we’ve told our team that we can’t be satisfied.”

NEARLY A THREE-PEAT: The BG women’s golf team nearly captured its third consecutive tournament title, finishing second at the 2012 Preview at Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, Ohio, on Monday and Tuesday.

The Falcons finished with a 36-hold score of 624, just three shots behind tournament champ Ball State and ahead of six other MAC schools. Junior Bailey Arnold led BG with a 152 to tie for third place.

Bowling Green started its hot streak by winning the Cleveland State Invitational on Sept. 25. The Falcons lapped the field in winning the Butler Fall Invite Oct. 8-9, posting a 36-hold score of 600 to smash the previous school record by nine shots.

TENNIS TAKES TWO: The BG tennis team captured eight of nine points to lap the field Oct. 12-13 at the Toledo Invitational.

The Falcons were led by three players — seniors Jade Johnson and Maddy Eccleston along with junior Emily Reuland — who posted undefeated records.

That marked the team’s second straight strong performance after it had won four titles in the BGSU Invitational Sept. 21-22. Reuland and junior Nikki Chiricosta won the first and second singles titles, respectively, while teaming up to win first doubles. Freshman Katie Brozovich and senior Mary Hill also won at fourth doubles.



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