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SMC Volleyball: Saint Mary’s, Cusack try to stay successful against Bethel

Joe Meixell | Thursday, September 28, 2006

After an impressive first half of the season, Saint Mary’s will look to continue its success when the second half begins tonight at 7 p.m. at Bethel.

The Belles concluded the first half of the season with a 3-1 win over MIAA opponent Tri-State on Tuesday – improving the team’s conference record to 4-2 on the year. Senior Kristen Playko posted 26 digs and a match-high 19 kills to lead the Saint Mary’s offensive effort. After a 30-28 win in the first game, the Belles lost by the same score in the second game before tallying 30-18 and 30-28 victories to win the match.

Freshman Lorna Slupczynski recorded a double-double in the effort with 15 kills and 19 digs. Setter Amanda David also had a strong effort with 57 assists.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek had mixed feelings on the team’s performance.

“I like our ability to drive and win,” Schroeder-Biek said. “What I didn’t like was putting ourselves in that position to have to come back. We need to improve our desire to compete from start to finish.”

The Pilots improved their record to 8-13 with a 3-1 win over Grace Tuesday. Junior Erica Bruxvoort led Bethel to the victory with 14 kills, four aces and seven blocks.

Bethel has been very inconsistent so far this season, alternating wins and losses in its last seven games. The Pilots have had a three-game win streak and an eight-game losing streak this season.

Saint Mary’s is led by libero Anne Cusack, who was recently named MIAA specialty player of the week. The senior averaged 7.2 digs and 1.2 service aces per game in the Belles’ two matches last week. Cusack currently leads the conference with 7.31 digs per game in MIAA play.

The Belles hope their strong bond can lead them to a win over Bethel.

“We have fantastic chemistry,” Schroeder-Biek said. “That is a huge strength and it helps to carry us through when we are struggling with our game.”

David also emphasized the value of the team’s chemistry. “It feels so good to know everyone on the court is working together toward the same goal,” David said.

“Having this chemistry helps us to be successful because it gives us confidence in each other during high-pressure moments.”