On a night when Lena Oliver was given a national award, it was Ali Gossen who stole the show for Western Michigan as they swept Toledo 3-0 in their home opener Friday.
In front of roughly 1200 fans, Lena Oliver was the recipient of the 2011 COBRA Magazine National Defensive Player of the Year award at the start of the match.
WMU came out slow in the first set, even trailing at one point 12-7. The Broncos however would come back to tie it up 14-14. After an error from Toledo to break the tie, WMU never looked back. With their impressive .552 attack percentage, the Broncos won the first set 25-21.
The second set saw a more dominant WMU team. Even though the teams were tied at 13-13 during the second set, WMU’s defense never let Toledo grab the lead. The Broncos excelled in allowing Toledo to score only twice on their own serve during the second set, eventually winning 25-19.
“We knew that Toledo was going to be scrappy and give us everything they got,” Head Coach Colleen Munson said. “We just played the defense we knew how to play and we didn’t allow them to go on any big runs.”
The third set saw a seesaw game between the two teams. Toledo came out strong and broke out to an early lead. WMU stayed tough and hung in to battle back. With their backs up against a wall trailing 20-16, the Broncos took a much needed timeout. Out of the timeout, WMU was able to go on a nice little run bring the score to 20-18 after Gillian Asque’s impressive kill down the middle. Terin Norris then went to record two service aces in the next three points to give WMU the lead 21-20.
Toledo would bounce back and would regain the lead. Trailing 24-22, and facing game point, WMU would come back once again and tie the game on a Jessica Brown kill. Trading points back and forth, it was Gossen who would eventually break the tie with a kill from the outside to give WMU a 27-26 lead. The Broncos would eventually win on the next serve as Toledo committed an attack error.
“Our mids did a great job holding their blocks and I was able to go one on one,” said Gossen. “I did what I have trained to do and that is hit the ball. I gave it all I had.”
The win improves WMU’s record 9-6 (2-1 in MAC play), and drops Toledo to 7-8 (1-2 in MAC play). Western Michigan will be back on the court Saturday at 5 p.m. as they face off against another MAC opponent in Ball State.