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SMC volleyball: Belles down Tri-State in tight road contest

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Belles history of success against MIAA rival Tri-State continued Tuesday as Saint Mary’s pulled out a close 3-2 victory on the road against the Thunder. Saint Mary’s has never lost in seven matches with Tri-State, including three this season.The Belles looked strong in their 30-21 first-game victory. But Tri-State quickly rallied, tying the match with a 30-23 win in the second game. A 30-24 win in the third game gave the Thunder a chance to clinch the upset.Saint Mary’s showed its resilience with a 30-25 win that forced a deciding fifth game. A 15-9 win sealed the Belles comeback and victory.Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek had mixed feelings about the team’s performance. “I was very proud of the way we never let up, but I didn’t like the way we fell behind and lost the lead,” she said.Saint Mary’s improved to 16-8 on the season (9-6 in the MIAA) with the victory. The loss dropped Tri-State to 5-10 in the MIAA and 8-19 overall. The Belles remained in fifth place in the MIAA while the Thunder dropped to eighth.The Belles effort was led defensively by senior libero Anne Cusack, who tallied a match-high 30 digs. Offensively the team was led by outside hitter Kristen Playko, who had 18 kills. Playko was recently named MIAA player of the week for her efforts in Saint Mary’s win over Kalamazoo. In the match the senior recorded 10 kills and 25 digs. She leads the team with 302 kills on the year and is second on the team with 4.33 digs per game.Leading the losing cause for Tri-State was Sallie Richardson, who had a team-high 11 kills. Senior Rainbow Bednarski, recently named MIAA specialty player of the week, posted a strong effort with 37 assists and 15 digs.Schroeder-Biek was very impressed by Tri-States performance. “They’ve improved every time we’ve played them, and it took everything we had to pull out the victory,” she said. “They’re a very good team, and this win was huge for us.”The Belles will play one final regular season match Saturday against third-place Adrian before the MIAA Tournament. Schroeder-Biek, however, is confident her team will not look past their final opponent.”We always play one match at a time, and we place more importance on that now than ever,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We will do what we can to tighten up our game and be ready for the conference tournament.”