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Belles win league by one point

Ryan Duffy | Wednesday, April 28, 2004

After a season filled with plenty of close matches and inspiring play, Saint Mary’s closed out its year on top Saturday winning the 2004 MIAA Tournament. The conference win reaffirmed the Belles dominance within the MIAA after a 2004 Team Title victory earlier in the year.The Belles captured their fourth straight MIAA Tournament Title by a single point, beating out runner-up Albion College 79.5 to 78.5.”It was incredible,” said Jeannie Knish, who finished third in singles. “We won the conference and the tourney. It was so exciting to win the whole thing.”The close call with Albion also made the championship more thrilling.”It was incredible to win by one point,” Knish said. “There was no point we thought we had it in the bag. It was really a team effort, since we were all in different draws, so we each needed to pull through and be successful. We had the support of our coaches, our teammates, and all our great fans, like Rudy Nkinzingabo, all year long, and we wanted to come through.”Knish got plenty of help from her teammates in clinching the victory. Kristen Palombo won the No. 2 singles title for the second consecutive year. For the third year in a row, Kaitlin Cutler won the No. 3 singles title and Kris Spriggle won the No. 4 singles title. Kate Bowler finished third in her first appearance in MIAA tournament play, and in the No. 6 singles spot, Miranda Mikulyuk placed fourth, improving her showing in the tournament from a year ago.Knish made first team All-MIAA for the third straight year. Cutler and Palombo were both selected as members of the second team All-MIAA.The big boost came from the No. 3 doubles team of Palombo and freshman Grace Gordon, who advanced all the way to the championship before taking second place.Despite winning both their conference title and tournament, the Belles were passed over for an NCAA Tournament selection. Instead, the NCAA committee chose Albion, who placed higher in the Midwest Invitational earlier in the year.