Volleyball team can now look ahead to OSU

Now it’s time to look forward to Ohio State.

The BGSU volleyball team vowed all week that it would not look past Oakland and Valporaiso to Saturday nights showdown with the Buckeyes at St. John’s Arena.

Now that the Falcons (8-3) swept the Grizzlies Tuesday and took down the Crusaders in five sets on Wednesday, they can walk into Columbus with their heads held high and full of confidence. But not too much.

“I thought the mood was just business as usual and there was not a lot of excitement, it was just an even keel,” head coach Denise Van De Walle said about yesterday’s practice.

“I was trying to talk to them before practice about the fact that we think we’re very good and therefore we’re going to hold them to a high standard,” she said. “It’s not easy because it’s going to feel like pressure and stress, but the good teams can handle that and Ohio State is going to stress us.”

BG has lost its seven previous matches against the Buckeyes, but this will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1983- Van De Walle’s first season as coach- which was a five-set loss at St. John’s Arena.

“I remember that match vividly,” Van De Walle said. “We went five and of course, back then it was on their home floor. I think they looked right past us because it was not a very strong team that I brought into Ohio State. That was a very tough year for Bowling Green volleyball.”

The Falcons finished that year with an 11-22 record.

Van De Walle has since then added 365 victories to her resume and five Mid-American Conference Championships.

BG, which compiled a 9-21 mark last season, enters the match on a three-game winning streak.

Samantha Rennau, who is averaging 3.30 kills and 2.25 kills per game, says the team is excited about the opportunity.

“We’re really excited and looking forward to the match,” she said. “We have a lot of confidence and we want to go in and play a good match.”

OSU (5-2) is returning from Oxford, OH., where they defeated Miami in four sets on Wednesday.

Head coach Jim Stone, who is in his 22nd season, boasts one of the top players in the Big Ten in Stacey Gordon.

Gordon is second in the nation, averaging 6.24 to go along with 3.76 digs per game.

Teammate Amanda Miller is averaging 3.16 kills per game, which is second on the team.

Western Michigan, the Falcons’ counterpart in the MAC, defeated the Buckeyes back on Sept. 9 in the Buckeye Classic.

However, Van De Walle doesn’t want to use that as inspiration for her team.

“They know that Western Michigan beat them (Ohio State), but that just happened that night,” Van De Walle said. “This is a great measuring stick because we open conference play with Western Michigan next week. So this will be a really good measuring stick, but it doesn’t mean the season to me.”

Van De Walle is aware of the football game taking place in Columbus this weekend and wasn’t shy about exuding her excitement, or bold predictions.

“How many times will this ever get to happen where your football and your volleyball team are playing nationally ranked opponents at the same place?” she said. “This will be history when coach (Gregg) Brandon and myself knock off the Buckeyes on the same day.”

The match between the Buckeyes and the Falcons is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.