The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Underdog’ Belles ready for Calvin

Justin Schuver | Tuesday, September 9, 2003

After their match Tuesday night, the Saint Mary’s volleyball team might be able to show an MIAA opponent what the Belles already know – they are a much improved volleyball team from last season.

The Belles travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday night to face traditional power Calvin College in a key MIAA matchup.

Saint Mary’s (4-2, 0-1 MIAA) comes into the contest on a roll, having won four of five games at the Kilt Classic in Ohio last weekend. The four wins already place Saint Mary’s well ahead of its pace from last year, when the team went 7-21 during the regular season.

The Belles are also anxious to avenge a narrow five-set loss to Albion last week to open their conference schedule.

“We’re real excited and [the girls are] hungry for an MIAA win,” coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “We’re the real underdog, but we’ve got wonderful team chemistry and this is going to be a good game.”

The Knights have had the Belles’ number lately. Last season, Saint Mary’s faced Calvin and lost in straight sets each time. Perhaps the most difficult loss was a 20-30, 15-30, 13-30 match which knocked the Belles out of the first round of the 2002-03 MIAA playoffs.

“They’re always just a real good solid team,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Calvin (5-0, 1-0 MIAA) is a talented team on both offense and defense. The Knights so far have amassed 259 kills this season, while their opponents have only collected 32 kills. The Knights have also hit at a .338 percentage for the season.

Defensively, Calvin has 45 total blocks compared to nine for its opponents.

Junior middle hitter Kara Kuipers leads the team with 86 kills and 27 blocks. Her performance has not gone unnoticed by the conference, as Kuipers has been named MIAA player of the week the past two weeks.

Middle hitter Christine Hendricks and outside hitter Kristen Kalb follow Kuipers in kills, with 54 and 49, respectively. The fact that two middle hitters have collected the vast majority of Calvin’s kills is no surprise to the Saint Mary’s coach.

“They run really strong out of the middle,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We practiced today against net aggression and defending the middle attack, because we know that’s what Calvin wants to do.”

The Belles played in over fifteen games this weekend, a fact that did not get past their coach. She insists that the team is well-rested and ready to take on what could be their most talented MIAA opponent this year.

“I think [the girls] have recovered and are building back up,” Schroeder-Biek said. “I think they’re rested and ready to go.”

The Belles return home Thursday to face non-conference opponent Rochester College.