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Team travels to Long Island

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Located in the heart of Brooklyn, N.Y., Long Island University is known as one of the “most ethinically-diverse campuses in the metropolitan area.”

“Geographical diversity” will be the theme this weekend when LIU plays host to Bowling Green, Weber State (Utah) and Georgia Southern at the Courtyard by Marriot Blackbird Classic.

BGSU volleyball coach Denise Van De Walle said it will take on the feel of a “national tournament,” because they are the only team from the Midwest competing in the tournament.

“It’s going to be a tough weekend,” she said. “I’ve never been to New York City. I’ve never taken a team to New York, so this is a first time experience for me.

“We’re excited to go and see it from a cultural standpoint,” she admonished. “But we also know that we want to go, and play three teams and play hard. It’s really important to play hard getting this last tournament under our belts, getting ready for the MAC.

The Falcons will open the tournament against Long Island today at 3 p.m. in the Schwartz Center. BGSU faces Georgia Southern and Weber State Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

Despite a 32-7 record a year ago and the return of six starters, the Blackbirds are off to a 2-8 this season.

Van De Walle said the match with the LIU will be tough, nevertheless.

“Long Island is going to be a very good team,” she said. “They have a lot of international players, and international players bring with them a lot of experience. So … our main focus is improving.”

Following last weekend’s performance at the BGSU Invitational where they finished 2-1 and took then No. 12 Ohio State to five games, Van De Walle said the mood of this week’s practice has been upbeat and filled with high intensity.

“I feel like we’re heading in the right direction,” she said. “I think they’re very happy with their performance in the tournament … disappointed that they couldn’t get the upset, but they feel good that they were right in the thick of things.

“We keep talking about the bar being raised and that’s the standard,” she added. “They understand that and they know what they’re capable of doing. So anything less than giving their best is just unacceptable.”

Setter Chrissy Gothke, who leads the Falcons with 7.38 assists per game, said the team’s spirits were boosted with the way they competed last weekend.

“We all know that the bar has been raised … so we have to hold each other to that high standard,” she said. “Even if we don’t come back with a win, I hope that we have great competition and give it our best. If we walk away with anything else than that, than it would be disappointing.”

Van De Walle said they will need to display consistency in order to consider it a successful weekend.

“We really want to take care of business on our side of the net,” she said. I thought we passed exceptionally well over the {last} weekend. So I want to be able to count on that being our bread and butter.

“Where I feel we’re going to need to make the biggest strides is in our offense. As long as we’re hitting and blocking like we did this whole last week of competition, I feel like we’ll be ready to start the match.”

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