Rockets Outlast Broncos, Win 3-2
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Western Michigan volleyball team took a held a 2-0 lead over the leaders in the Mid-American Conference West division, but the Broncos were unable to hold on in falling 3-2 (25-18, 25-14, 12-25, 23-25, 14-16) to the Toledo Rockets at University Arena on Friday. With the loss, the Broncos fall to 16-12 on the season, 9-6 in MAC play.
The Broncos had a strong offensive night, with senior Gillian Asque leading the way with a 15-kill performance, a mark that also including a .406 hitting percentage. Claire Gerwig was not far behind her, posting 14 kills and a .343 hitting percentage. Lexie Pawlik posted a double-double of 56 assists and 11 digs, while freshman Alysia Baznik notched one as well with 14 kills and 14 digs. Five Bronco players recorded double-digit digs, including Baznik, Pawlik, Lena Oliver, Caroline Rose, and Kaycee Acree.
The first set went about as well as possible for the Broncos, who used strong passing ability to produce a killer offensive barrage against the Rockets. WMU trailed 7-4 at one point in the first set, but bounced back and took the lead at 11-10 on a block from Asque and Rachel Sheffer. The teams traded points back and forth until Gerwig blasted one through the block to make it 16-15, and a Toledo attack error on the next point put the Broncos in control. Gerwig hammered home another kill out of the timeout, and the duo of Pawlik and Ave Stout blocked the Rockets' Jordan Kielty to cap the 5-0 run and give the Broncos a 19-15 edge. The run ended ultimately being a 10-1 foray, with Sheffer and Gerwig capping the run with kills to make it 24-18. Sheffer closed out the set with a down line shot for the kill, giving WMU a 25-18 set win.
WMU went further on the offensive in the second set, hitting .545 as a team and blowing by the Rockets to take a 2-0 advantage in the match. The Broncos never trailed in the set, opening on a 3-0 run that saw Asque rip two kills to seal the rally. Baznik later made it 5-2 with a kill, and the Broncos eventually took an 11-6 lead with a kill from Baznik that forced a Toledo timeout. The Rockets burned their second timeout of the set a few points later, after Stout capped a 4-0 Bronco run with a kill to make it a 16-9 edge for WMU. Pawlik took a full wind-up and swing for a kill to make it a 17-10 edge for the Broncos, and Stout posted kills on back-to-back points to make it a 20-11 edge. Asque forced set point with a high hands shot through the middle block to make it 24-14, and went on to wrap the set 25-14 with a kill two points later.
The Rockets took control of the rest of the match, though, starting with a .583 hitting performance in the third set that saw them win 25-12. The fourth set was back and forth all the way through, with the Broncos leading 21-20 at one point on a kill from Baznik. The Rockets scored three straight points to take a 23-21 lead, but Sheffer responded with a kill to make it 23-22. The Rockets' Becca Reidy ultimately forced set five with a kill, as Toledo took the fourth set 25-23.
Toledo came back from a large deficit in the fifth set to take the win, rallying after trailing by a score of 14-7. The Rockets scored the final nine points of the match, taking a 16-14 decision in the fifth set and the win.