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SMC VBALL: Belles win in five matches

Ryan Kiefer | Wednesday, September 21, 2005

In a match that featured everything, Saint Mary’s got the only thing that mattered – the win.

The Belles prevailed over Kalamazoo College Tuesday in a five-game nail-biter, 30-21, 30-25, 32-34, 16-30, 15-13.

It was Saint Mary’s sixth win of the season, matching last season’s win total. It was also the Belles’ first conference win of the year in three tries.

Saint Mary’s (6-7, 1-2 MIAA) dictated the play in each of the first two games, jumping out to a 2-0 lead.

“We were very much in control early,” Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “We weren’t the most energetic team, and it wasn’t as crisp as I’d like to see, but it was sufficient to win.”

The Belles appeared to be cruising to a victory after putting together a quick 5-1 run to tie the third game at 24. But on the final point of the run, setter Amanda David fell to the floor, writhing in pain. She sustained an ankle injury and limped to the sidelines.

Without David, the lone setter on the roster, the Belles scrambled to make position changes. The team responded to the adversity, forcing a 32-32 tie. A miscommunication during a substitution, however, led to a faulty rotation, costing the Belles a crucial point. Kalamazoo won the next point to capture the game.

Despite the game three loss, Schroeder-Biek was proud of her team’s play.

“We really rallied after Amanda’s injury,” she said.

David returned early in game four, but the Belles could not muster any momentum. A 12-0 Kalamazoo run gave the Hornets a 17-4 lead. Kalamazoo continued to find holes in the Belles defense as the margin grew to 27-10 before a 6-0 Belles run closed the gap. The rally fell short as the Hornets took the final three points.

Schroeder-Biek blamed a mental lapse for the game four loss.

“We needed to be tougher mentally in the fourth game,” she said. “The injury forced us to shift people to different positions, so the girls were playing next to someone they were not used to. Still they are all teammates and have been playing together since August. I would have liked to see us adapt quicker.”

The Belles rebounded by becoming aggressive in the match’s final game, scoring several big kills.

Shelly Bender had a big block-kill to bring the Belles to within 11-10. She followed with another kill four points later to put her team ahead 13-12. Kristen Playko capped the victory when she scored a kill and hit a serve that was not returned to capture the match’s final two points.

Schroeder-Biek saw a killer instinct in game five that was absent in the two previous games.

“We played to win,” she said. “We stayed aggressive and kept our communication going. We set a standard for ourselves.”

The win marked the second consecutive match the Belles have won in five games. It was also their first home win of the season.

Saint Mary’s will have little time to celebrate their victory. The Belles have three more home contests this week, the first against Manchester College on Thursday.

Schroeder-Biek spoke of the importance of using the momentum from tonight’s win throughout the week.

“We hit that high right in the middle of a tough week,” she said. “That win was huge.”