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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Dutchmen get best of the Belles

Kevin Brennan | Thursday, September 8, 2005

Sometimes your head just isn’t in it.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said that was exactly the case for the Saint Mary’s volleyball team last night at the Angela Athletic Center. Hope College downed the Belles in four quick games: 30-18, 30-21, 27-30, 30-19.

“It’s disappointing,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We are capable of so much stronger play. We didn’t go into this mentally as strong as we needed to.”

The coach was upset with the low level of confidence displayed by Saint Mary’s in its first conference match of the 2005 season.

“One head would go down and then another head would go down,” Schroeder-Biek said. “That was contagious unfortunately.”

The Belles looked strong at the outset, jumping to an early 4-1 lead in the first game of the match. The Flying Dutch quickly responded, though, with a 9-1 run, forcing Schroeder-Biek to call the first timeout of the evening.

Saint Mary’s battled back and cut the Hope lead to 19-16 on a kill-block from freshman Catherine Kurczak. Hope regained control from there, however, and closed out the game with a final score of 30-18.

The second game held more of the same with Hope posting an early 11-5 lead that it would never surrender. Flying Dutch outside attacker Kim Brandes dominated the Belles front line, and Hope easily took the game, 30-21.

Saint Mary’s came to life in the third game. Hope again established an early 11-5 lead, but the Belles refused to give up on the match and battled back to tie the game at 14-14. The two teams stayed neck and neck until the Belles finally pulled away in the closing points. Freshman middle blocker Kaela Hellman delivered the final blow for Saint Mary’s, ending the game in a 30-27 Belle victory.

The resiliency shown by Saint Mary’s in the third game stood out to Schroeder-Biek as the night’s one bright spot.

“They showed some spirit there,” the coach said. “They showed some heart, but we needed to do that throughout the match. We had too much of that in spurts.”

The Belles could not carry this momentum into the final game, however. An early Saint Mary’s 3-2 lead was quickly washed away by ten consecutive Hope points. Schroeder-Biek eventually called a timeout with her team down 28-14.

The Belles came out of the timeout digging their heels in once again, going on a 5-1 run to bring the score to 29-19. It was too little to late, however, as a kill by Hope’s Lindsey Schaap brought the match to a close.

The Flying Dutch attack was orchestrated by junior setter Stephanie Poll, who logged an astounding 42 assists and a match-high 24 digs. Outside hitters Julie Vanderslice and Kim Brandes caused problems for the Belles all night, recording 22 and 11 kills, respectively.

For the Belles, junior Kristen Playko led the way with a team-high 8 kills and 5 digs. Junior Amanda David, who is a setter for the first time in her career, had 21 assists and 16 digs for the Belles.

Saint Mary’s next competes in the Wooster College Invitational this Friday and Saturday. Schroeder-Biek hopes that her team can learn from its failures against Hope and enter the tournament with greater confidence and focus.

“Maybe this is a good lesson for us to see that most sports are more mental than physical. We beat ourselves before we walked onto the court,” Schroeder-Biek said.