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Volleyball looks to repeat MAC championship

‘Believe BiG’ was the motto for the Falcon volleyball team this past season when the team won the Mid-American Conference championship and a bid into the NCAA tournament.

Head Coach Danijela Tomic knows this to be the only way to success.

“We focus on these things: hard work, perseverance and that grit will make a lot happen,” she said. “If you don’t do these things, you have a slim chance of making big things happen.”

Tomic said it is important for her team to get behind this motto.

“In athletics that’s the way it has to be,” Tomic said. “Nobody wants to come into a team and think ‘OK, we are going to be an average team, somewhere in the middle of the pack,’ I don’t want my players to have that attitude.”

Despite finishing victorious for the first time in 21 years at the MAC tournament, Tomic said she and the team are not focused on the past.

“I am now finishing preseason, I am not even thinking about last year, that is over,” she said. “This is a new season; a new team and we just have to start again.”

The team began the off-season by teaching the incoming freshmen to buy into the team’s culture and its competitiveness.

“Teaching our freshmen about our team has been a lot easier than I expected,” said left-side hitter, Lindsey Butterfield. “They are more than willing to learn and adapt, I think they are going to be a great addition.”

The first regular season game for the Falcons is against Marquette, who finished 27-7 on the season and beat BG this past year.

“Marquette is a good team, they are a top 30 team; they play fast offense, they are well coached they are very good,” Tomic said.

“Out of all three teams [BG, BYU and Marquette] we have the worst [ranking]. I want us to play hard, play disciplined, be a great team and be aggressive; if we do all of those things, if we beat Marquette, great, and if we don’t, we will comeback next week and work harder.”

Butterfield said she thinks about things this past year’s team did well when it came to being a winning team.

“As long as we mold together, trust each other and have respect for each other I think the result will take care of itself,” she said.

Tomic said the preseason has gone well, and the team will be working on technical training this week.

“I think we are where we need to be at this time and it is hard to gauge where we are until we line-up against somebody else,” she said.

The team is returning with seven seniors, three of which were named to the First-Team All-MAC team is past year. Paige Penrod, a left-side hitter who was named the MVP of the MAC Championship, right-side hitter Danielle Tonyan and Lindsey Butterfield are players Tomic expects big seasons out of. Sprinkled with freshman that are expected to get some playing time, the 18-player roster has “more depth in every position,” Tomic said.

Tomic and the players know it will not be easy to lower another MAC Championship banner, but the team believes they can do it.

“It’s like a GPS, go straight, go right, take a detour, all things happen during the regular season, there is no one way to reach your destination,” Tomic said.

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