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SMC Volleyball: Adrian narrowly manages to hold off host Saint Mary’s

Joe Meixell | Monday, October 30, 2006

The Belles fell just short of a stunning comeback Saturday, losing to visiting Adrian 3-2 at the Angela Athletic Center.

The win improved third-place Adrian’s MIAA record to 12-4 (17-8 overall). Saint Mary’s dropped to 9-7 in conference play (16-9 overall). The Belles finished the regular season in fourth place in the MIAA.

The Bulldogs took control of the beginning of the match and won the first two games 30-22 and 30-28. But when it looked like Adrian would cruise to victory, Saint Mary’s stormed back, taking the third game 30-26.

The Belles then fought off match point in the fourth game to win 32-30 and send the match to a fifth and deciding game.

After chipping away at an early Bulldog lead in the fifth game, Saint Mary’s closed to within a point before falling 15-13 in the clincher.

The match was the Belles’ second five-set match in a row – the first came with a 3-2 win Tuesday over Tri-State.

“We were definitely disappointed by the final result,” Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “But even though we lost the match, we cannot let the outcome overshadow all of the positives. We fought hard with incredible spirit and talent.”

Junior Lindsay Eshelman led Adrian with a match-high 24 kills and nine digs. Senior Abby Sikora also turned in a strong performance with 28 digs and 66 assists.

The Bulldogs will face off against Tri-State in the first round of the MIAA tournament Tuesday.

For the Belles, Kristen Playko posted her 19th double-double of the season with 23 kills and 20 digs. Libero Anne Cusack led the way defensively with a match-high 32 digs.

“The comeback and intensity we showed was just the beginning,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We need to carry over that same determination into the conference tournament.”

St. Mary’s will begin play Tuesday in the MIAA Tournament against fifth-seeded Alma. The Belles split the regular season match-up, winning 3-0 at home Oct. 8 and falling 3-1 at Alma.

Coach Schroeder-Biek said the team is looking forward to the match.

“We are definitely excited to be hosting the first round,” she said. “This will be a tough match, but we have to have teamwork and desire to win, and we are ready to compete.”