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Improved Belles hope to contain scrappy Alma attack

Pat Leonard | Friday, October 17, 2003

Saint Mary’s hopes to start its first conference winning streak of the year as it travels to face conference leader Alma today.

The Belles (13-10, 3-7 in MIAA) defeated Adrian at home Tuesday, paced statistically by Kristen Playko’s 26 kills and 25 digs.

Saint Mary’s lost to Alma at home in four sets Sept. 21. Since that game, the Belles have compiled a 5-4 record including a 2-2 mark in conference matchups.

“We have improved tremendously since the last time we played Alma,” coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “We’re going to have to really do a good job blocking [today] if we want to stop their attack.

“They’re just a real quick, scrappy team, but then again so are we.”

Today’s game is the first of three straight conference games on the road for the Belles, and a key stretch for a Saint Mary’s team looking to increase its conference standing.

“It’s nice that we get the first place and second place team [Hope] on this road trip,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We know that we’re not going to get first in the conference anymore, but we can still go into this trip looking to make some damage.

“We’re out to improve our standing going into the postseason.”

The Scots (20-4, 9-1) are led offensively by outside hitter Kristen Judson and middle hitter Erin Fralick. Judson has 128 kills in 32 games and Fralick has 117 kills in 34 games.

Fralick was also recently named MIAA Player of the Week.

The Scots are defensively balanced, with four players collecting over 100 digs so far this season. Fralick also leads the team in blocks with 39.

The Scots are one of the best offensive teams in the conference, leading all teams in both kills and service aces so far this season.

After today’s game, the Belles will remain on the road as they travel to the Hope College Triangular Tuesday. Saint Mary’s will play two conference matches at that tournament, facing Olivet at 7 p.m. and host school Hope at 9 p.m.