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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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BG to open MAC slate

There are no pretenses for Bowling Green volleyball coach Denise Van De Walle as the Falcons open their Mid-American Conference schedule against arch-rival Toledo at 7 p.m. today.

But she does have a clear image of how BG should play when they take the floor at Savage Hall.

“I want to see us play harder and better than we did in the Long Island tournament,” Van De Walle said, referring to last weekend’s tournament in which BG went 2-1. “I want to see us start minimizing some unforced errors, I want to see us serve the ball a little tougher, I want our passing to stay consistent.

“I would like to think that where we finished with Weber State [last weekend], as competitive as we were, that we would start out like that against Toledo and Ball State,” she continued.

That said, Van De Walle has been pleased with how her young team has maneuvered their way through a tough non-conference schedule.

“I’m very happy that we’re 6-5 right now,” she said. “We’re making progress every time we compete. I think that we’ve changed the lineup quite a few times from day one. We’ve switched positions with a couple different players right now, so we’re still looking to find out the best lineup.

“I think we’ve had 11 great matches to get ready for Toledo,” she said. “We have played tough competition with Ohio State being the only nationally ranked opponent on the schedule. I think we’re ready.”

The Falcons enter tonight’s match with the Rockets (7-5) having won 11 of the last 16 meetings dating back to 1998. BG has swept the home-and-home series in each of the last three seasons.

UT has won four straight matches this year. They are led by Kate Bean, who has 3.78 kills per game and Lori Sarich with 161 digs.

Van De Walle missed last year’s MAC opener with the Rockets because she was in Athens, Greece serving as an assistant coach with the USA Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team.

Though she said because both teams open the MAC with each another again, it adds fuel to the rivalry.

“I just think that … It’s a rivalry in every sport,” Van De Walle said. “When Toledo’s on our home floor or we’re up on their home floor, we’re playing as hard as we can. It’s an important match. It’s gotta be like Duke and North Carolina.”

BG will travel to face defending MAC West champion Ball State (6-4) tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The Cardinal’s Rachel Refenes and Kelly Cochran average 4.11 and 3.22 kills per game, respectively.

BG assistant coach Mark Hardaway, who coached the Falcons in Van De Walle’s absence, said every team the Falcons have played this season have had one or two outstanding players.

“We’re going to face that in the MAC,” he said. “Every MAC team has at least one person that’s a go-to person, and so I think it was good to face teams like that. In Toledo, I know Kate Bean’s going to see a lot of action. She’s up in the top of the conference in kills per game.”

Van De Walle said she hopes the Falcons elevate their level of play this weekend, but wants the team to focus on getting better every time they take the floor.

“We’re learning as we go,” she said. “I think we’re coming along just fine and this weekend – no matter if we win both, lose both, or split – I know we’re going to work hard while we’re on the floor.”

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