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BG Falcon Media

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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 16, 2023

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Volleyball hopes to regain confidence

Gut-check time.

That is a much-used and much-abused sports cliché.

But with the Bowling Green State volleyball team, it fits perfectly as they prepare to host the Western Michigan Broncos tonight at 7 p.m. and the Eastern Michigan Eagles Saturday at 3 p.m.

“These two games coming up are real big for us, because they’re going to mean a lot,” senior Taylor Twite said before yesterday’s practice. “Coach was telling us that if things go how we think they are going to go, then we’ll end up second in the MAC behind Ball State.”

The Broncos are coming off a 3-0 sweep over the Falcons last weekend to pull even with BG in the MAC West Division standings at 6-4, while the Eagles come into Anderson Arena sitting atop both teams at 9-2.

The Falcons (13-9, 6-4) have lost a combined total of eight games to Western and Eastern Michigan dating back to 2002, although BG carries a sense of optimism into the games since they have posted a 4-1 record at home this season.

“I think we always seem to play a little bit better at home,” Twite said. “So I think it’s going to give us an extra bit of confidence, but we still have to come out and play hard to get the wins.”

Head coach Denise Van De Walle said the intensity and focus has been evident all week in preparation for the Broncos and Eagles.

However, she said it doesn’t matter who the team plays at this point because of the competitiveness of their remaining schedule.

“It seems like every team left on our schedule has done quite well and has a winning record,” Van De Walle said. “From day one, I really felt like that’s how this year was going to be for us … because we have so many young players and that’s how good the conference is.”

WMU (12-9, 6-4) is led by Ashley Schatzle, who is averaging 3.30 kills per-game — one of four players averaging at least 2.56 kills.

The Broncos are also third in the MAC in both hitting percentage and blocks averaging 2.32 and 2.99, respectively.

Van De Walle said the team was disappointed with the way they performed against the Broncos last weekend.

“We really felt like with the way we played games one and three, we were playing well enough to win but we just didn’t finish,” she said. “It was a lesson learned and we know that we have to finish this weekend.

“They’re a well coached team, very physical and they do some great things,” Van De Walle said. “We know that we are capable of playing with them and evening controlling the match to a certain degree.”

Kate Sulewski directs the EMU (14-8, 9-2) attack with 13.20 assists per game, which ranks second in the MAC.

Becky Baltare leads the Eagles with 3.73 kills, but she is only of four players averaging a least 3.10 kills per game.

EMU leads the MAC in digs with 19.58 per game and is second in opponent hitting percentage, holding teams to .102.

“Eastern Michigan is another very good team,” Van De Walle said. “They’re well coached, physical, disciplined and they hit the ball hard. It’s almost going to be like playing the same team’s back-to-back.

“If you look at, I think you’ve got three of the best teams in the conference playing in Anderson Arena this weekend,” she said. “Ohio’s good, they’ve already been here … people haven’t seen Ball State and they’re very good as well. So, I look at BG, Western and Eastern in that same category and it’s going to be a dogfight.”

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