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Voshell becomes a two-sport star

Her first love is softball and that will never change, but Libby Voshell decided to use her fifth of year eligibility to play volleyball as a member of the Bowling Green State Falcons for a good reason.

“I wanted to play volleyball to further my education and stay involved with BG athletics,” Voshell said.

Voshell stepped onto the campus of Bowling Green as a self-assured freshmen in 2000, which spawned questions about her intentions to make an immediate impact for a Division I softball team.

Her high expectations warranted criticism and even made some envious, but Leigh Ross-Shaw, who was in her third season as the BG softball coach while recruiting Voshell, saw the possibilities early on.

“When I was recruiting Libby I knew she was the type of player that probably could play Big Ten. She was just a great natural athlete,” Ross-Shaw said.

Voshell found her way into the starting lineup at shortstop during her first season, perhaps by fate, because Collen Bates – the starting shortstop from the previous season – left the team for personal reasons.

She started in 43 games, placing third on the team with 21 RBIs and batted .281 for the season as the Falcons finished with a 33-18 record.

The following season she hit the sophomore slump when BG compiled a 35-19 record. She batted .209, and accounted for 18 runs in 52 games.

The Brighton, Mich. native said she found a new sense of purpose after her intense training during the offseason.

“It was tough my second year because I did so well my first year and I was expecting to do better,” she said. “It made me work harder and coach really challenged me to make big strides, so I wanted to improve every area.”

Though it marked the first losing season she experienced as an athlete, Voshell batted .321 and hit two homeruns in 46 games.

In the midst of the Falcons 22-25-1 record during her junior year, Voshell’s leadership ability came to the forefront.

“Her first couple of years it was hard for her to kind of accept that role as a leader on the field,” Ross-Shaw said. “She did a fine job and as she got older she started embracing it a lot more. She really stepped up and not only wanted to be on the field, but at the plate.”

In 2003, the Falcons posted a 26-26-1 record and made their fifth Mid-American Conference Tournament appearance in six years, while freshmen Gina Rango buoyed an intriguing intra-squad battle with Voshell.

“Gina came in and tore it up and that made me want to work harder,” Voshell said. “She really pushed me to raise my game and I hope I did that for her.”

When the Falcons’ season ended in the MAC Tournament against Western Michigan in May, Voshell realized her softball career was over and memories were all she had from that point on.

“It was hard to deal with when the season came to an end because I had so much fun and I made a lot of good friendships,” she said. “I had a lot to look back on, but I wasn’t ready to end my career.”

Later that month, Voshell was back in competition and it only took an invitation from Denise Van De Walle, the MAC’s all-time leader in victories among volleyball coaches and the one who also passed up on her as a senior at Brighton.

“It was a very interesting situation, because last spring I was talking to one of her teammates and we were talking about recruiting, so she said I should talk to Libby,” volleyball coach Denise Van De Walle said.

“What’s interesting about that is I knew Libby, because when she was a senior in High school she contacted me about playing volleyball here, but we passed on her and she chose softball.”

Van De Walle said she saw Voshell at the Fieldhouse after a couple of days had passed following the conversation with Marla Murphy (softball player).

“I called coach (Ross-Shaw), she said it was fine, Libby came and started to practice with us. I watched her for about a week and called her up and said I’d like to offer you a scholarship to be on our team.”

Voshell accepted the offer without any reservations, because in hindsight, she said she always wondered how competitive she could be in volleyball.

“This was a great opportunity and I’m glad coach Van De Walle decided to give me a chance because I always thought I could play volleyball at the Division I level,” she said. “I’m not bitter about being passed up the first time because I know the team had different needs back then but everything worked out.”

The fifth-year senior became only the second player in Van De Walle’s 21 seasons as coach to play multiple sports. The first was Megan McGuire, who lettered in 1989 after playing basketball for the Falcons.

Despite the fact that it has been delayed gratification on the volleyball court — playing in nine of the teams 56 games — the 5-foot-10 Left/Right Side Hitter says she has no qualms about the process.

“It’s been kind of hard not being the focal point on the team because I was used to that from softball,” she said. “I knew it was going to take some time because everyone has been doing in volleyball what I was doing in softball, and that’s trying to get better everyday.”

Van De Walle said that Voshell continued to make strides on the volleyball court.

“She brings so many wonderful intangibles to this team because she works very hard, she wants to excel and she gets along with everyone,” she said. “I don’t see Libby having a big impact on the floor yet, but I like what she brings to the team personality wise and physically and in a couple of more weeks I do think she will be on the floor.”

Voshell’s, who has already finished her undergraduate with a degree in Business Administration, career as a student-athlete draws to a close at the end of the volleyball season and she plans to graduate with her master’s degree in Special Education.

She has a full life awaiting her upon graduation, with hopes of returning to Georgia — where she is originally from — and teach kindergarten she said.

But for now, Voshell doesn’t mind keeping her fiancee Casey Rigowski waiting and putting her dreams on hold until she completes, if not fulfills this dream.

“He knows how much this means to me and he’s been very supportive throughout the whole process,” Voshell said. “Right now, I’m focusing on making impact on the team and I’m having so much fun but afterwards I’ll start thinking about everything else.”

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