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SMC Volleyball: Belles win last home matchup

Samantha Leonard | Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Saint Mary’s had just lost two conference matches and needed a win Saturday night against Albion in its final home game of the season.

The Belles came through with strong offense and tight defense in all three games of a 30-25, 30-28, 30-27 sweep.

Saint Mary’s (10-14, 5-7 MIAA) faced the fifth-place Bulldogs, who had already beaten the Belles on Sept. 19. In their last 10 meetings against each other, Albion held a 6-4 edge over the Belles. With all of this going against them, the Belles came out with a chip on their shoulder and a hunger to win.

Each game was close, with scrappy play coming from both sides.

In the first game, the Belles established a 22-15 lead and held on to take a 1-0 edge in the match.

The Britons looked to take command of game two with an early 10-4 lead, but the Belles made a comeback. Neither team held a lead larger than three points the rest of the game. At 29-28, the freshmen duo of outside hitter Jacee Watson and middle blocker Andrea Sasgen posted a block against sophomore outside hitter Morgan Watler to end the nail-biter.

Saint Mary’s dominated the beginning of game three, posting an 11-2 start over the Britons. Albion fought back to take the lead at 20-19. Although it was a good fight, the Belles took over again and Albion could not catch up.

It was a team effort by the Belles, with almost every starter for Saint Mary’s contributing to the win. Junior middle blocker Cathy Kurczak was the leader of the attack with 16 kills on the night. Fellow junior middle blocker Kaela Hellmann posted a double-double with a 10-kill, 15-dig performance. Sophomore outside hitter Lorna Slupcnzyski also tallied a double-double with 10 kills and 18 digs. Sasgen had another standout performance with 11 kills on the night, a team-high five blocks and two service aces.

“This was a very important win for us because when we played at their place, they beat us in four games,” Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “This win tied us with them in league record but, because we beat them in three games it pulls us ahead of them head to head.”

Schroeder-Biek was especially pleased with her junior middle blockers.

“Our middle attack was very effective. So much of the time, we are too dependent on our outside attack – it was really nice to see the middles mixing things up,” the coach said.

But the attack could not exist without Belles setter Amanda David.

David, who has been a team leader throughout the season, played her final home match, with a team-high 43 assists and contributed to the defense with a 13-dig effort.

“It felt really great that my last home match was a win, but it really didn’t hit me until after the game when my dad brought me flowers” David said.

Once the reality sunk in, David realized there was a lot she was going to miss about Saint Mary’s and her team.

“I am going to miss my volleyball family the most,” she said. “Julie [Schroeder-Biek] and [assistant coach] Stacey [Stark] have been there for me on and off the court and my teammates truly are like my sisters – we all just have the best time together.”

David said she is sad to see the end is so near.

“This year has been going by way too fast. It seems like we just started tryouts last week, but we are coming to the end of our season,” she said. “I am trying to enjoy every last bit of it as much as I can before it is all over.”

The Belles now travel for their last five matches of regular season play. After a four-day break, Saint Mary’s will face off against Kalamazoo on Saturday.