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Belles win season opener, finish fourth in tournament

Samantha Leonard | Monday, September 3, 2007

The Belles opened their 2007 season this weekend with a fourth-place finish at the Monmouth College Volleyball Invitational.Saint Mary’s began the year on a high note by taking down Robert Morris 3-1 (30-25, 30-24, 30-18). The Colonials finished the six-team tournament in last place after losing to Hannibal-LaGrange and Loras. The Belles also took on Loras in their second and final match of pool play, and fell in four games (21-30, 30-17, 30-24, 30-25). Loras then went on to defeat Principia, 3-2, to take home the championship. Saint Mary’s took on the host team, Monmouth, in its consolation game. The Belles won the opening match (30-20), but lost the next three (30-27, 30-26, 30-19) and finished fourth in the tournament.Although the Belles came up short in their final two games, head coach Julie Schroeder-Biek called the tournament a success.”I felt this was a great opener for us. We got a glimpse of our potential as a team, which is very exciting,” Schroeder-Biek said. “There were also areas that were exposed that we need to work on, the good thing is that those areas are things we can fix.”The Belles hope to fix those problems this week before beginning conference play. “This is an incredibly important week for us, opening up with our conference play against Adrian College on Tuesday and then Hope College on Thursday,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We will be working on tightening up our defensive positioning and finding our connections on offense.”She was also excited about the young talent that just joined the team.”I am so excited for this season,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We have strong talent returning and strong talent in our two new additions to the squad, freshman middle hitter Andrea Sasgen and freshman outside hitter Jacee Watson.”One key player and returning talent Schroeder-Biek mentioned is sophomore outside hitter Lorna Slupczynski. Slupczynski, the 2006 Freshman of the Year, was named to the all-tournament team for her performance in the three games and is expected to be a great asset for the Belles this year as she steps in to replace 2007 graduate Kristen Playko.The Belles hit the courts again Tuesday night at 7 with MIAA conference play against Adrian College in Adrian, Mich. Saint Mary’s dropped both conference matches against the Bulldogs last season, and will look to improve on last year’s fourth-place MIAA finish.