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SMC Volleyball: Schroeder-Biek hopes for growth this season

Brennan, Kevin | Friday, September 2, 2005

Julie Schroeder-Biek has some high expectations.

“Our goal is to climb up the conference ladder and be a force in the MIAA,” the Saint Mary’s volleyball coach said. “I feel that this team, they’re going to do it.”

The road to achieving this end begins this weekend, as the Belles open the regular season at the twelve-team Elmhurst College Invitational in Elmhurst, Ill.

On Friday, Saint Mary’s will open against on the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and then challenge No. 12 Elmhurst. The teams will be re-seeded Saturday morning, and then elimination rounds will continue throughout the day.

The Belles believe they will turn in a solid performance at the tournament.

“We’ve been playing well in practice and in our scrimmage [Tuesday],” junior and outside attacker Michelle Turley said. “I feel our chances are very good that we will end up with a positive outcome.”

A great deal of the Belles’ confidence derives from their performance in an exhibition game against the University of Chicago on Tuesday at the Angela Athletic Center. Saint Mary’s defeated the Maroons in five games – 36-26, 28-30, 29-31, 30-21 and 15-12. The Belles often jumped out to big leads and then allowed Chicago to claw its way back into the games.

But Schroeder-Biek was proud of her team’s performance.

“We had a couple times we were down and Chicago closed the gap on us,” Schroeder-Biek said. “For us to be able to maintain our confidence and come back and finish the match up strong, I think it said a lot for the girls.”

Saint Mary’s is coming off of a disappointing 2004 campaign. The Belles finished the year in seventh place in the nine-team MIAA conference, recording an overall record of 6-19 and a conference mark of 5-11.

However, Schroeder-Biek is confident her team will turn things around this year. Saint Mary’s returns a core group of veterans, highlighted by Turley, junior outside hitter Kristen Playko and senior middle hitter Shelley Bender.

Turley thinks this group will lead Saint Mary’s to a big season.

“I have very high expectations for the team this season,” Turley said. “We have talent and depth in every position and great team chemistry.”

Schroeder-Biek said the team is poised to start its turnaround this weekend.

“I know this is a good tournament,” Schroeder-Biek said. “I think if we play the best we can play, we’re going to show some people what Saint Mary’s volleyball is all about – and I’m excited.”