Mandly says Falcons aspire to go a little higher


Bowling Green State University volleyball 6-foot junior outside hitter Kat Mandly says this year’s team has the same goals last year’s team had — winning the Mid-American Conference and advancing to the NCAA tournament.

But she says there is more to it than that. The Falcons want to do at least one better, by winning a first-round NCAA tournament game.

Mandly said that success can be measured in multiple ways.

“I’d say just get better every single day — that is one of our values of the team, which is excellence, and that’s just something that will be implemented every single day as we train for winning the MAC, going to the NCAA,” Mandly said.

After the Falcons took a spring trip to Central Europe in May, Mandly is glad to back home and playing for the school of her choice. Mandly, who is from Perrysburg, is the only Wood County player remaining after the graduation of record-setting outside hitter Katelyn Meyer (Eastwood) last year.

“It means the world to me, especially being so close to home,” Mandly said. “I can have my family come for every match and I’m lucky enough that they travel to every match and watch me play.

“To be able to play for such a great program and have my family support me through each match is super important.”

Mandly has already had her share of success for BGSU, chosen to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman Team and All-Tournament Team in 2021 and the Hampton Inn Invitational All-Tournament Team in 2022.

In 2022, she appeared in 26 matches, 73 sets, with 16 starts, and ended the season fifth on the team in kills with 195, averaging 2.7 per set.

Mandly tallied double-digit kills nine times during the season, landed a career-high 19 kills for the Falcons against Western Kentucky (Sept. 2), and finished the season with a career-high 53 digs as well as a career-high four aces.

Mandly recorded season highs for digs (9) and aces (2) against Loyola-Chicago (Aug. 26) and registered a season-high four blocks against DePaul (Sept. 3).

More importantly to Mandly, she helped the Falcons win a MAC title and advance to the program’s fourth NCAA tournament appearance, losing to Western Kentucky in a regional game.

“That was super cool,” Mandly said. “The first time we went to the NCAA was during COVID, and that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was all held in one place and all the teams were staying in the same hotels and that kind of stuff.

“But for this we traveled down to Kentucky, and it was a super cool experience to be able to see everything, have a nice hotel and have some free time while we were down there, and walk around and see what everything was like, and obviously play some really good volleyball.”

In 2021, Mandly was named BGSU’s Female Newcomer of the Year, appearing on 90 sets across 26 matches and registering 273 kills, including a career-high 19 in the MAC championship match.

She registered 3.4 kills per set in conference play, the most among MAC freshmen and logged 48 digs and 43 blocks, including a career high 13 digs against Illinois-Chicago.

BGSU coach Danijela Tomic returns after tallying a 350-197 record over 11 years, including being 128-57 within conference play and a 51-6 MAC standing over the last three seasons.

In that time, the Falcons have captured three MAC regular season championships in 2017, 2018 and 2020-21, as well as three MAC Tournament titles that granted NCAA Tournament berths, one in 2012, 2020-21 and 2022.

Mandly says without Tomic and her staff, the Falcons would not have had that success.

“I love my coaches endlessly,” Mandly said. “They are some of the best people I’ve ever known.

“But one thing that they focus on a lot is learning and training ugly, which sounds kind of weird at first, but you can’t get better unless you fail first, and they believe in that. I think that is a real important piece to train your athletes as they are trying to learn, grow and be better.”

At Perrysburg, Mandly was a four-year letter winner, leading her team to back-to-back Northern Lakes League championships and four district tournament appearances.

She was first team all-district and All-NLL three times, named the NLL and district Player of the Year in 2019, and was honorable mention All-Ohio in 2018 and second team All-Ohio in 2019. However, Mandly says her experience with the Toledo Volleyball Club was just as instrumental to her development.

“I think the play when I was back in high school was a lot more competitive than what it seems to be now, which obviously would have helped me prepare, but I think club volleyball prepared me the most because you played against teams from all over the country at the highest level, and that’s what really prepares you,” Mandly said.

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