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Falcons begin year in Chicago

With the benefit of talent and depth, a quiet battle to crack the starting lineup may have maintained its uncertain status for some players on the Bowling Green volleyball team heading into this weekend’s season opener.

Still, the Falcons travel to the University of Illinois-Chicago Invitational equipped with an aura of confidence, according to coach Denise Van De Walle.

‘We’re still trying to figure out who’s going to be out on the floor,’ she said. ‘There are some players who we know are going to be on the floor because of what they can do ‘ but everyone has been competing hard during practice.

‘The excitement and energy level has been very high,’ Van De Walle continued. ‘I think everyone is ready to start the season and play someone else.’

BG will open the five-team tournament at 9 a.m. tomorrow against the Denver Pioneers, who were the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt Conference West Division.

The Falcons will face host UIC (0-2) at 2 p.m., and close out the tournament Saturday with games against College of Charleston (2-0), which was picked to win the Southern Conference regular season title, and James Madison (0-1) at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.

Van De Walle said the tournament will be a good test for her young team, which added four freshmen and return eight letter-winners from last year’s 17-14 squad, including redshirt freshman Kendra Halm.

Ten of the 13 players are underclassmen.

‘A lot of teams opened the season last weekend, but that extra week of practice has really helped us prepare for this tournament,’ she said. ‘We’re really young, but this will be a good opportunity for us to start the season off on a good note with some tough competition.’

Though Van De Walle sits at 396 wins and counting, she is excited about the possibility of reaching a milestone but said she just wants to leave the tournament with more wins than losses.

‘I don’t think the team knows,’ she said. ‘It’ll be nice to reach win No. 400 this weekend, but we need to take it one game at a time.’

This weekend will be a homecoming for sophomores Maggie Karges and Corrie Mills, both of whom are from Illinois.

‘It’s exciting to be going back to play in my home state, especially since we won’t be playing Northern (Illinois) twice anymore,’ said Karges, a native of Joliet, Ill. ‘My parents came to a few home games last season, but it’ll be nice to play in front of the rest of my family and friends.’

Mills shared Karges’ sentiment about playing back home.

‘It’s always nice to go back home and play in front of your family,’ said Mills, a redshirt sophomore from Elgin, Ill. ‘This will be an exciting weekend for our team because we’re all just ready to start the season. Hopefully we can come out, play hard and win all four games.’

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