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Belles take nothing for granted

Justin Schuver | Friday, September 26, 2003

On paper, it looks like a mismatch. But for the Saint Mary’s volleyball team this season, nothing has come easy, and it would be a mistake to assume that its conference matchup against Olivet will be a cakewalk.

“[Olivet] has been struggling a bit this year,” Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “It should be a good match for us to try some of the things we’ve really been working on in practice.”

The Belles (8-6, 1-5 in MIAA) face off against the Comets (3-9, 0-3) in a key MIAA match at home Saturday.

This is an important match for the Belles to return to their winning ways of earlier this season. Since starting the year 8-4, Saint Mary’s has dropped three straight conference matches.

“We’ve been competing very well against these teams,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We’ve gotten lots of compliments from coaches on how improved we are from last year.

“It’s just a matter of playing hard the entire match. It’s not enough to just win one game.”

Interestingly, every time the Comets win a game this year, they also win the match. Every Olivet loss has come in straight sets.

Olivet, like Saint Mary’s, is a rather young team. The Comets have only one senior and one junior on their roster his year.

Offensively, the veterans carry the team. Senior middle hitter Erin Graham is by far the team’s leader in kills, with 112 kills in 38 games played. Junior outside hitter Jamie Hutchinson is second, with 83 kills in 36 games played.

Olivet is dead last in the MIAA in almost all statistical categories except for blocks, where the Comets rank fifth in the conference with 2.11 blocks a game. Saint Mary’s is seventh, with 1.46 blocks per game.

This discrepancy has not gone unnoticed by the Belles coach.

“Our schedule has been so hectic lately,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The girls got the week off Wednesday, but we really have a lot to work on defensively in our next practices, especially our blocking.”

After facing Olivet, Saint Mary’s remains at home to face two straight non-conference opponents, starting with Manchester Tuesday.