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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Confidence slow to show for squad

Kevin Brennan | Thursday, September 15, 2005

Julie Schroeder-Biek wishes her players could see what she can see.

The coach’s Saint Mary’s volleyball team has been struggling. Tuesday’s home loss to Olivet dropped the Belles’ record to 4-7, but Schroeder-Biek said she knows her team can turn things around. The coach just needs her players to start thinking the same way.

“I believe that they can do it,” Schroeder-Biek said. “I am very confident in them. I just wish they had the same confidence in themselves that I have in them.”

Saint Mary’s will have its first opportunity to right the ship Thursday, as the team travels to River Forest, Ill. to take on Concordia. Concordia is off to an even slower start than the Belles are this season, crawling to a record of 2-7.

Schroeder-Biek does not know what to expect from the Cougars. Saint Mary’s has not played the school in recent years, and the coaches have not yet seen Concordia play.

The Belles are not worried about the uncertainty surrounding their opponent heading into the match, though.

“We don’t really know a whole lot about them, and that’s fine with me,” Schroeder-Biek said. “I’m ready to go into this with us setting the standard and us playing our best game. And not being concerned about what our opponent is like.”

Tuesday’s loss was particularly worrying for Saint Mary’s because they were fully aware of the quality of their opponent. Olivet finished No. 8 in the nine-team MIAA in 2004, and the team has compiled a 2-5 record so far this year. The struggling Cougars still managed to beat the Belles in five games.

“We were disappointed, but more at ourselves for not playing up to what we know we can do,” Schroeder-Biek said of the defeat.

Schroeder-Biek said she saw several problems in the Olivet match that need to be addressed before taking on Concordia. Poor service reception has plagued the Belles all season long, and it killed the team Tuesday. Something perhaps less visibly lacking in Saint Mary’s performance bothered the coach even more – “inconsistent intensity.”

“We have the ability and that’s the frustrating part,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The ability is there. It’s just strengthening ourselves, strengthening our drive to win, and just coming out mentally prepared to do so.”

Despite the team’s recent troubles and the lack of familiarity with Concordia, Schroeder-Biek feels good about the Belles’ chances Thursday. The coach has the team focusing solely on what it must to do secure a win.

“I do feel confident,” Schroeder-Biek said. “I believe in my player’s abilities. I really strongly do. Whoever our opponent is – good, bad, ugly, whatever – I really just want us to focus on how we step onto that court.”