Aug. 25, 2012
MILWAUKEE-- Northwestern overcame a sluggish start in its first match of the 2012 campaign against Bowling Green to knock off the Falcons, 3-1, at the Marquette Challenge. The Wildcats dropped the first set of the year, but showed resilience in claiming three straight frames to win Saturday.
Sophomore Yewande Akanbi led the Wildcats with 14 kills, while senior setter Madalyn Shalter added a double-double behind 39 assists and a career-high 22 digs. Shalter also added seven kills and hit at a clip of .417 (7-2-12).
Bowling Green, which opened its season Friday night against Marquette, rushed out to quick start against the Wildcats and fought off several long rallies to win the opening frame, 25-21. Northwestern was plagued by eight attacking errors and six service errors in the first set.
The Falcons took a 10-4 timeout prompting NU head coach Keylor Chan to call his first timeout. NU trailed 19-12 when a four-point run, capped by a thunderous kill by Akanbi, brought her team to within three. BGSU later led 23-21 and kill by Paige Penrod and an attack error on the Wildcats provided the winning margin in the first.
The two teams began the second frame in a much more balanced fashion as they combined for 15 tie scores and six lead changes. Savannah Paffen, playing in her first match in Purple-and-White, put down a kill to ignite a Wildcat rally with her team trailing 11-8. Later, Shalter buried a service ace to extend the lead to four points at 19-15, but BGSU went on a 8-3 run to grab a one-point lead at 23-22. With the set tied at 25-25, Akanbi took charge. The sophomore recorded a kill and a solo block on back-to-back sequences to give Northwestern its first set of the match, 27-25.
Bowling Green proved to be undeterred as it followed a similar blueprint in the third set. The Falcons led 12-9 after Penrod served up an ace. Each squad traded quick runs until the score was knotted at 19 points apiece. Northwestern went on a three-point run that finished with an ace from Monica McGreal and the Wildcats sealed the set with an ace off the hand of Paffen to win 25-20 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Northwestern's squad finally got out to a quick start in the fourth set. The Wildcats led early on, 6-2, and did not look back. An impressive 9-4 run, featuring kills by Akanbi, Paffen and Hannah Crippen, extended the advantage to 15-6. Chan's squad went on to win the fourth set, 25-19.
Bowling Green's Danielle Tonyan led all players in the match with 19 kills. Penrod was also in double-digits with 13 for the Falcons.
With Saturday's win, Northwestern improved to 10-3 in the first match of the season under Chan. The Wildcats now have a record of 11-2 overall in season-opening tournaments since 2007. NU also moved to 3-1 all-time against the Falcons.
The Wildcats return to the Al McGuire Center on Sunday afternoon to close out the Marquette Challenge against the host Golden Eagles at 2 p.m. Northwestern leads the all-time series against Marquette, 2-0, winning 3-1 in 2010 and 3-0 in 1996. Tomorrow marks the first contest between the two schools on MU's home floor.
Sunday's match can be seen live on GoMarquette.com.
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