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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Squad defeats Concordia

Tom Brennan | Friday, September 16, 2005

Lost somewhere in Illinois, the Saint Mary’s volleyball team may have finally found itself.

The Belles ran into some trouble Thursday trying to find Concordia University in River Forest, Ill.

Saint Mary’s was forced to dress for the match on the bus and was unable to warm up at all before the start of the first game.

Despite these obstacles, Saint Mary’s bounced out of its recent slump with a five game defeat of Concordia – 30-24, 27-30, 30-18, 25-30, 15-11. The victory boosted the Belles’ record on the season to 5-7.

Head coach Julie Schroeder-Biek loved the way her team set the tone for the opening of the match.

“We jumped on that court and we took the lead right off the bat,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Saint Mary’s corrected the two main problems which it felt led to Tuesday’s disappointing home loss to traditional conference basement-dweller Olivet.

The Belles played with a much greater intensity Thursday, Schroeder-Biek said.

In addition, the Belles were no longer plagued by poor service returns. Concordia recorded only nine service aces in the five games, while the Belles had 10 aces in the match.

Schroeder-Biek particularly liked the balance displayed by Saint Mary’s Thursday, as several different players significantly contributed to the victory.

Outside attackers Kristen Playko and Michelle Turley had 22 and 14 kills apiece, while middle hitter Julie Bender put up 14 kills and three aces.

Junior Anne Cusack put forth a superb defensive effort with a team-high 29 digs.

Amanda David, in her first year playing setter, had a match-high 57 assists.

Schroeder-Biek was impressed with David’s performance.

“I think Amanda David did a real nice job of her accuracy on running the quick offense,” she said. “For her being so new to this, she really did a nice job of setting the transition offense off the dig.”

Concordia entered the game with a poor 2-7 record, but Saint Mary’s was impressed by the Cougars’ level of play and resiliency.

“This team didn’t have a good record, but they weren’t a bad team,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We had to work.”

The Belles still have some problems that need to be worked out, though.

Saint Mary’s has made a habit this season of getting ahead in games and allowing the opposing team to claw its way back.

The trend continued Thursday, as the Belles struggled to put the Cougars away in several games.

“We definitely had our lulls again where we would let them get back in,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Saint Mary’s also must start playing better at home. Thursday marked another strong road performance for the team, but the Belles have yet to win a match at the Angela Athletic Center this season.

“It’s like I have two different teams,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We have our home team and our away team, and the away team seems to pick it up a bit more. We need to show our home crowds what we can do.”

The Belles will get a chance to do just that in their next game.

MIAA rival Kalamazoo College will visit South Bend Tuesday, as the Belles try to carry momentum from the win over Concordia into conference play.

“The women looked confident, and they felt confident,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The whole mood is very strong right now. I’m glad to be going into the conference again like this.”