Eastwood graduate Katelyn Meyer, a 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter, did not expect Bowling Green State University volleyball to be as dominant as they have been during her five years as a college standout.
“I didn’t come in thinking we would dominate as much as we would have, but we’ve been a special program and I love my teammates and my coaches,” Meyer said. “Our team just really has a good culture first, we trust each other, and I think that shows on the court. It’s been great, I’m excited for us and all the seniors to end with an NCAA experience.”
Meyer, who has rewritten portions of the BGSU volleyball record book, will play in her last game when, and if, the Falcons lose during the upcoming NCAA tournament.
BGSU will compete in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the last three seasons.
BGSU (22-9) will ride an eight-match win streak into the tournament, facing No. 22 Western Kentucky (28-3) in the first round on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington Kentucky.
The winner of the Battle of Bowling Green’s (WKU is in Bowling Green, Kentucky) will get the No. 10 Kentucky (20-7)-Loyola Chicago (25-8) winner on Friday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum for the right to advance to the regionals.
The Falcons are coming off the program’s fourth consecutive appearance in the MAC Tournament championship and the team’s second tournament title in the last three seasons, topping Ball State in five sets.
The Falcons and Hilltoppers met once earlier this season, playing during the second week of the season as part of the Hampton Inn Invitational, hosted by Bowling Green. WKU entered that match ranked No. 22 as well and came away with a 3-1 win.
“I’m very excited. We played them in our preseason, so that is a very exciting draw for us because we already played them,” Meyer said. “That will be cool. Our coaches were sitting right next to us (at the selection show Sunday), and they told us, ‘Oh, we already got the scout ready.’”
BGSU coach Danijelica Tomic believes her team will be ready, in part because multiple Falcons who were new to the program have stepped up since that opening week.
“We knew that whoever we get in the NCAA tournament is going to be a hard match. (When) we played Western Kentucky here in our home tournament it was a close match, but we were a very different team,” Tomic said.
“It was actually a different lineup that first week of the preseason than what we finished our season and the people we played most of the season this year. We are so different. That seems like so long ago. That was literally our second week.
“Our two freshmen, who had significant playing time, (6-0 freshman outside hitter) Lauren Hovey and (6-4 freshman middle blocker) Jessica Andrews, so that was literally their second week in Bowling Green.”
“They had maybe five practices with us. And we played a different lineup,” Tomic continued.
Journey to get here
To get to the NCAA, the Falcons defeated Ball State 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 15-9, to win the MAC Tournament championship.
“I think we went to the MAC tournament ready to play, ready to fight, and that is what the score showed,” BGSU 6-0 senior outside hitter Petra Indrova said. “In the first semifinal game we just went at it and the scored showed it and the Ball State game it was a little bit back-and-forth, up-and-down, but we fought as a team and that is what brought us to the win.”
Meyer added, “That was something we were really willing to try and go into (strong), because last year we came up short. We played our hearts last year and this year, but this year it went in our favor.
“The big thing that coach talked about during the game was believing in ourselves and trusting all of our training and all of the work that we put in this year, so I think we did exactly that.”
It worked out for Ball State, too, because they got an at-large berth and are also in the NCAA tournament. Ball State (24-8) opens against host Marquette (27-3) at the Al McGuire Center at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“I also want to mention that I’m glad that Ball State got that at-large bid,” Tomic said. “That is a huge statement for the MAC.”
Now, it’s onto the “fourth chapter,” as Tomic calls it.
“We are among the 64 teams that are in this tournament, but it’s what we talked about in the preseason as one chapter of our journey, then you have the regular season and the MAC, then you have the MAC tournament postseason, and now it’s the fourth chapter,” Tomic said.
“So, every team is going into the postseason thinking they have a chance and they’re excited about it. It’s going to be about getting onto the court and giving your best and competing — not just playing but competing and going on with confidence.”
Watch the Falcons
BGSU will be hosting a watch party at the Stroh Center on Thursday. Doors will open at 4 p.m. with the match beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The watch party od free and open to the public. The first 200 fans inside the arena will receive popcorn.