Volleyball looks to win MAC Championship

Paige+Penrod%2C+outside+hitter%2C+bumps+the+ball+up+for+a+teammate+in+a+game+earlier+this+season.

Paige Penrod, outside hitter, bumps the ball up for a teammate in a game earlier this season.

Reporter and Reporter

The BG volleyball team will look to use the embarrassment of the Northern Illinois game to fuel its motivation for this weekend’s Mid-American Conference tournament. With the loss to NIU this past Saturday, the Falcons have earned the No. 2 seed in the MAC tournament and will face Eastern Michigan this Friday.

When BG played Eastern Michigan back in the regular season, it nearly lost the match after being put in a two set hole. Yet, BG showed its resiliency that night by battling back to win the match three sets to two.

The Falcons have only lost three matches in MAC play and none of the teams are present in their portion of the bracket. This means the Falcons will not have to matchup against a team they have lost to until the championship match on Sunday.

This may be an encouraging sign for the Falcons and their hope to capture the MAC title. But, there is also more pressure on the team in light of the fact that only the winner of the tournament can qualify for the NCAA tournament.

“The chance to be in the MAC tournament is a great opportunity and we could not be happier,” outside hitter Paige Penrod said. “I know we are thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to make it to the NCAA tournament, but that is our last focus right now because we are not going to get ahead of ourselves … Taking one game at a time and focusing on what we need to do to improve will get us closer to getting an NCAA bid.”

This team has fought like crazy to get where they are right now and, judging by the players’ attitudes, they are more than ready for this opportunity.

“Winning the tournament and earning a bid to the NCAA’s is something every athlete desires, but our team’s desire is unmatched,” outside hitter Lindsey Butterfield said. “It would mean another great opportunity to make our fans and University proud, as well as the community members. We are ready to take what we have worked for.”

It has not been smooth sailing for the Falcons; even when they were on their undefeated streak in MAC play they were involved in many close matches. BG has had five matches in conference play go to a fifth set and three of those teams serve as potential matchups for the Falcons in the early rounds of the tournament.

However, Falcon players feel that this has, in a sense, made them stronger by helping to build their stamina.

“I do not think fatigue will be an issue during the tournament,” Butterfield said. “We have had numerous five set matches in a row and came out on top. We continue to lift and condition during the season so that we are in great physical shape for the tournament.”

“As a whole, I feel that we are the most in-shape team in our conference,” Penrod said.“I feel that throughout this season Coach Danijela Tomic has prepared us to the best of her ability and this weekend will be like any other weekend in the MAC.”

BG will be looking to put the dread of this past weekends’ game against Northern Illinois behind them. Although losing that game meant falling from the No. 1 seed in the tournament, the mere fact that they are in the tournament gives them a chance to leave their mark on the conference.

“Our mentality as a group is to be mindful in everything we do and to limit our errors,” Penrod said. “We still have a great record, and as a team I feel we can bounce back from our Northern Illinois loss because we have something to prove this weekend.”