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SMC Volleyball: Taller Bethel downs Belles

Ryan Kiefer | Monday, October 3, 2005

The Bethel College volleyball team has four players six feet or taller. The Saint Mary’s volleyball team has none.

A distinct height advantage, combined with powerful hitting, led Bethel College to a three-game win over Saint Mary’s Saturday, 30-24, 30-27 and 30-22.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek knew her team would face match-up problems even before Saturday’s contest with the Pilots began.

“We knew going in that with their height, our floor defense was going to have to pick it up. We knew they were going to be a challenge,” she said.

Despite the outcome, the Belles played a solid match, using scrappy floor defense to make Bethel, an NAIA powerhouse, sweat, especially during game two.

“That team fully expects to go to nationals in their division,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Saint Mary’s made use of different defensive rotations to combat Bethel’s attack. Schroeder-Biek was pleased with her team’s ability to adapt to the changes, especially during the second game, which nearly fell the Belles’ way.

Big Bethel kills and timely defense marked the first two games. Saint Mary’s never let Bethel get too far ahead, consistently keeping the Bethel lead at two or three points. The Belles trimmed the game one lead to 26-24 before losing four straight points to end the game.

Saint Mary’s played its best volleyball of the match in the second game, winning several long points. With the score tied at 14, Saint Mary’s played a ball off the rafters after deflecting a Bethel kill attempt and came back to win the point. The point characterized the Belles’ determination that allowed them to take a 26-25 lead late in the game. Five of the next six points would fall Bethel’s way, however, putting the Belles in a two- games-to-none hole.

Bethel’s size and potent offense wore on Saint Mary’s in game three. A 9-0 Pilot run turned a 7-5 Saint Mary’s lead into a 14-7 Belles deficit. Saint Mary’s would not get any closer than five points for the rest of the game.

Schroeder-Biek was proud of her team’s effort, despite the loss.

“We weren’t as strong in game three, but overall I thought we played well,” she said. “I thought we really challenged them today. In past years we have go into Bethel and laid down. We didn’t do that today.”

Schroeder-Biek said that Pilot coach Julia Reninga complimented her on the Belles’ play after the match.

Kristen Playko and Michelle Turley led the Saint Mary’s offense with 12 kills apiece, while setter Amanda David led the passing game with 34 assists. Libero Anne Cusack anchored the defense with 19 digs.

The Belles have completed their non-conference matches for the season and will now turn their focus to MIAA opponents beginning with Adrian College Wednesday.

Schroeder-Biek thought the Bethel match would prepare her team for this week’s match.

“This match was good for us heading into Adrian because they have a very good transfer hitting on the outside. Our defense will have to play well again,” she said.