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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Sunday Setter: The skid continues, and now more questions than answers remain

Jaden+Walz+sends+a+ball+over+the+net+
Drake Harlett
Jaden Walz sends a ball over the net

When I am trying to describe how the weekend felt for Bowling Green Volleyball, I can only think of one word-

Deflating.

Losing to your rivals in Toledo on Friday, followed by dropping a tough match to a red-hot Ball State Cardinal team on Saturday is another example of a nightmare that BGSU cannot seem to wake up from.

What is the main issue? It seems to be a lack of response to their own wrongdoings.

“I asked our players to be better learners,” said a fired up Danijela Tomic following BGSU’s loss to the Cardinals. “They need to bring learn ability, and we’re going to continue losing until our players understand and start listening to those who try to help them.”

Oh yeah, that’s some frustration coming out.

What Tomic was referring to was the fact that during this five game losing streak, which has seen BGSU drop 15 of the last 20 sets, Bowling Green is continuing to make the same mistakes, over and over again.

Overall, during the last five matches (vs Northern Illinois, at Western Michigan, vs Toledo, vs Ball State), the Falcons are averaging a 22.54% hitting percentage, while averaging 21.4 errors per match as well.

Now certainly more X’s and O’s go into the reasoning for these stats, but at face value, BGSU is playing volleyball that many just did not expect to see them play.

At that even goes for the coaching staff.

“I get reminded of how, this season especially, winning is not normal,” said Tomic following Friday’s loss. “We made it look normal in the last few years, and we are getting reminded of just how hard it is to win.”

Sure, the Mid-American Conference this season has seen some teams really raise their level of play, with the headliners being led by the Western Michigan Broncos, who just continue to dominate the MAC West, sitting at 6-0 in conference play and are 16-2 overall.

Then you have teams like Buffalo (15-3, 5-1 MAC) sitting in first in the east, Akron, who went from worst to tied for first in the east in just two years (10-7, 5-1 MAC), as well as Ohio, who the Falcons play next, who are proving to be one of the toughest outs in the area.

Throw in the rise of Toledo, the continued success of Ball State, as well as pesky foes such as Northern Illinois and Central Michigan, and you have a conference that is just continuing to create roadblocks for a Bowling Green team that cannot get out of it’s own way lately.

But more so, it’s playing at a championship level each and every set that has evaded this team so far this year.

“I think that consistency thing is one thing that we’re getting one step closer to each day,” said senior setter Jaden Walz after Friday. “It’s just waiting for that time for it to click.”

Well folks, time is running out for BG to see it click, because before you know it, the MAC Tournament will be here.

And right now, Bowling Green is not in it.

It is a concerning site for a program that came into the season with so much optimism, and rightfully so, but now it feels as if there are more questions than answers surrounding the stretch run of the season.

But one answer that is clear-the team’s confidence is still high, and they still believe things can change.

“This is hard; they’re in the arena fighting, they’re figuring out, we as coaches are going to stick with them, and we’re going to stay in the arena and we’re going to keep fighting,” said Tomic. “I believe that we’re going to figure this out.”

However, as much as confidence carries it’s respective amount of weight in athletics, the ability to recognize and adjust is as well.

And right now, the team is having repeated lapses of reaction.

Whether it is a late decision to go for a dig, a couple of players both going for a ball, or a miscommunication in where to attack, the Falcons are having some issues in communication and playing in sync.

That is not a lack of consistency in regards to a physical issue, it’s rather a mental one.

“We have to start playing like a champion mentally more consistently,” said associate head coach Alex DelPiombo following Friday’s match. “We have moments where we’re playing strong and together, and then we’ll make a mistake, and that’s where we are coming up short, and it needs to change.”

DelPiombo is right- opponents right now are not exactly beating BGSU just straight up.

They are beating themselves too often.

So for this coming week against Ohio, this is going to be the ultimate test of will- banged up at middle blocker, five game losing streak, pressure mounting to change the course of the season.

Are the orange and brown ready to face it head on?

Tomic is ready to see if they are.

“When the players take the ownership of their learning. their process, and them competing for the team and honoring the gift that they’re given, then our season, our success, is going to change,” said Tomic. “If not, you’re going to be given the same opportunities and we’re going to be failing again until we learn.”

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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