Spikers win two in Boise

More than two weeks of optimism, anticipation and endless talk of improvement finally gave way to the real thing last weekend.

It was only fitting that the BGSU volleyball team christen the 2003 season by leaving the Boise State Invitational with a 2-1 tournament and a bolt of confidence.

“The overall experience was a great one…We started out a little bit slow, but we ended very competitively and very strong,” head coach Denise Van De Walle said. “I think we were a little bit nervous opening up…Everything was in Boise State’s favor. But I also think that the team regrouped on Saturday and played two complete matches.”

Susie Norris’ 11 kills and 14 digs, along with Taylor Twite’s career-high 14 kills and .364 hitting percentage could not propel the Falcons over Boise State in the opening match.

The Broncos defeated BG in four sets (26-30, 30-24, 26-30, 17-30), while playing in what Van De Walle described as an “ideal volleyball environment.”

“The band was there, the cheerleaders were there, they had a new sound system and it was just a hard place to play,” she said. “I really do think it was a fluke that we lost. If we were to play them again, I’d like to think that we would win…but not to take anything from the way Boise played that match.”

When the Falcons took the court Saturday they felt a sense of urgency.

“We knew that we didn’t play how we know we can on Friday, and we knew we had to just come out and play our game,” Twite said before yesterday’s practice. “We were actually pretty confident going into Saturday…We knew that if we played our game we should be all right.”

BG was all right.

They responded with a five- set victory over Portland (30-23, 17-30, 30-25, 25-30, 15-13) led by Samantha Rennau, who posted a career-high 20 kills, six digs and a .371 hitting percentage.

Twite established a new career-high with 22 kills and Norris contributed with her second consecutive double-double performance.

The momentum carried over to the next match against Utah Valley State. Following, a 30-25 loss in the first set, the Falcons rebounded by taking the next three (30-23, 30-24, 32-30).

Amber Mareski led BG with 47 assists and Nadia Bedricky chipped in with 11 kills, seven digs and a .278 hitting percentage.

But, it was the overall performances of Rennau and Twite that warranted recognition from the all-tournament team.

“It helps my confidence a lot,” Rennau said about making the team.

“I thought I did really well…It had a lot to do with the passing, setting and everything else,” Twite said. “We all worked really good as a team all weekend. I think that helped me and Sam shine through.”

Van De Walle feels that the emergence of players that saw limited action last season and the improvement of the veterans has given the team something they had been missing.

“You don’t want to have just one player, ever, because if that player gets hurt or something happens…I’ve seen teams fall apart,” she said. “So, right now…I do think we have balance we haven’t normally had here and that’s a really good feeling.”

All-Tournament Team- MVP- Portland’s Michelle Oakland, Boise State’s Cameron Flunde, Bowling Green’s Samantha Rennau, Bowling Green’s Taylor Twite, Utah Valley’s Krystal Peterson, Portland’s Heather Dennison.