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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Belles win three of five at Wooster

Ryan Kiefer | Monday, September 12, 2005

The Saint Mary’s volleyball team’s performance at the Wooster Invitational this weekend was most accurately summed up in one word.

Resilient.

After losing their first two matches of the tournament Friday, the Belles roared back to win three straight matches Saturday, capturing fifth place out of eight teams.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek was proud of her team’s weekend effort.

“We showed a lot of heart, especially on Saturday,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We had good spirit and focus.”

Saint Mary’s opened the tournament by facing undefeated Mt. Vernon. The Belles lost in three straight games, 30-16, 30-11, 30-25. Schroeder-Biek felt her team was somewhat flat in the tournament opener.

“We didn’t step it up like I thought we could,” she said. “Our serve reception struggled, and when you can’t pass the ball effectively, it’s difficult to get any offense going.”

The Belles next faced perennial power Muskingum. They again fell in three games, 30-17, 30-22, 30-24. Schroeder-Biek said her team picked up its level of play in the second match and competed well, but it wasn’t enough to get a win.

Following two Friday losses and facing a three-match losing streak, the Belles refocused and set new goals for Saturday’s contests.

“After losing the first two matches, the best we could finish was fifth,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We made that our goal for Saturday, to finish as high as we could.”

The Belles pulled together Saturday morning, opening with a three-game sweep over Bluffton, 30-23, 30-22, 30-19. St. Mary’s followed its first win of the tournament with a four-game victory over Point Park, 26-30, 30-25, 30-16, 30-16. The Belles captured the fifth-place match in a four-game decision over Bluffton 30-21, 22-30, 30-28, 30-17.

Entering the tournament, Schroeder-Biek emphasized focus and mental toughness, something she felt was lacking in a loss earlier in the week to Hope College. Saturday’s effort showed that the Belles responded to their coach.

“We showed a lot of perseverance,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We stuck to our goals and pulled together as a team. Everyone played for their teammates.”

Schroeder-Biek felt that her team’s balance over the weekend was one of their strong points. Statistics from the weekend support her case.

The Belles had three different players lead in kills (Kristen Playko with 59), digs (Michelle Turley with 57) and assists (Amanda David with 132) over the weekend.

Saint Mary’s will look to continue its three-match winning streak when it hosts conference foe Olivet College Tuesday.