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SMC Volleyball: Belles travel to face No. 16 Calvin, Adrian

Joe Meixell | Friday, September 26, 2008

Building on the momentum from its hard-fought victory over Kalamazoo on Tuesday, Saint Mary’s heads to Grand Rapids, Mich., to face AVCA No. 16 Calvin and Adrian in a MIAA three-way mini-tournament on Saturday.

The Belles (10-4, 3-2 MIAA) are looking to add to their three-game conference win streak and continue their climb out of the MIAA cellar after beginning the season 0-2 in the conference.

Saint Mary’s head coach Julie Schroeder-Biek, whose squad eclipsed the 10-win mark for the fourth straight season with Tuesday’s win, considers the early success of her team crucial to making a run in the MIAA.

“We need to build on that success,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The returning players are well aware of what it will take to get to where we want this program to be. We want to be playing for a championship.”

The Belles will begin Saturday’s competition with a match against the Knights. Offensively, Calvin (10-3, 4-1) is lead by freshman hitter Rebecca Kemp, who has tallied 210 kills with a blistering .413 attacking percentage this season. Junior defensive specialist Kelsey Sears leads the team with 217 digs, while Kemp contributes defensively with a team-high 1.30 blocks per game. The Knights enter the match coming off a hotly-contested, four-set home loss to Hope, who is undefeated in the MIAA.

In the late match, Saint Mary’s will square off against the Bulldogs in their second meeting this season. Adrian (6-7, 2-3) dismantled the Belles earlier this month, handing Saint Mary’s a blowout, three-set home loss. The Bulldogs come into Saturday with a five-game losing streak, having most recently dropped a close match to conference opponent Alma on Tuesday. Senior hitter Jenny Carlson leads Adrian’s struggling offense with 131 kills on the season. Senior Samantha Mercy and juniors Courtney Sellers and Natalie Niblock power the Bulldogs’ smothering defense, with each player having accumulated triple-digit digs.

The Belles begin play at 11 a.m. on Saturday against Calvin, concluding the day’s competition with a 1 p.m. match against Adrian. The tournament is held at Calvin’s campus in Grand Rapids, Mich.