SMC VOLLEYBALL: Belles take on Hope for first conference match
Ryan Kiefer | Wednesday, September 7, 2005
The Belles of Saint Mary’s will take their first step toward an MIAA crown when they host Hope College tonight in the conference opener for both teams.
The Belles (1-3) are coming off a tough weekend at the Elmhurst College invitational. The team lost its first three contests to Elmhurst, Wisconsin-Oshkosh and St. Scholastica before defeating Blackburn for their first victory of the season. Despite the results, Coach Julie Schroeder-Biek was pleased with her team’s play.
“I’m very excited about how we played over the weekend,” she said. “We faced great national level competition and we competed with them. They didn’t run over us. If anything this weekend built our confidence.”
Practice sessions this week were focused on improving areas where the Belles struggled during weekend play, with a special emphasis on serve reception. Schroeder-Biek felt her team would become sharper in all areas as the season continued.
“They did a good job playing together,” she said. “Now we just need to tighten everything up. We also need to get everyone more experience.”
Hope (3-1) enters tonight’s contest having won three games at the Wisconsin-Whitewater tournament over the weekend. The Flying Dutch’s lone loss came at the hands of Wisconsin-Whitewater, who is currently ranked No. 8 in the country. Hope split two contests with the Belles last season, with each team winning on their opponent’s home floor. Hope finished last season in fourth place in the MIAA, three places ahead of the Belles. Coach Schroeder-Biek spoke highly of the Hope team.
“They have a strong winning tradition at Hope. They have good hitting, and they don’t give up; they always compete,” she said. “We’ve had a good rivalry with them.”
If the Belles are to reach their goal of moving up the MIAA standings, they must win home contests in league play, especially against quality opponents like Hope. The Belles were 5-11 in the MIAA last season, 3-5 at home. Schroeder-Biek spoke of the importance of notching a win in the first conference match.
“It’s very important for us to get off on the right footing,” she said. “We’ve set a high standard and now we must live up to it.”