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SMC Volleyball: Squad gets set for league doormat Olivet

Michael Blasco | Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saint Mary’s began the season 4-1 before dropping two consecutive MIAA matches. Now, the Belles are searching for answers.

Saint Mary’s (4-3, 0-2 MIAA) will try to generate some momentum tonight when it takes on woeful Olivet (1-6, 0-3 MIAA) at 6 p.m. at the Angela Athletic Facility. Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek emphasized the importance of playing with emotion and passion when trying to break out of a slump.

“We just need to turn up our game,” Schroeder-Biek said. “It is there. We have just played flat. That is the area of our focus – bring not only our skill but our heart to the court.”

The Belles enter tonight’s match coming off a loss to conference opponent No. 17 Hope, who dominated in straight sets (25-18, 25-21, 25-12) at its home facility in Holland, Mich.

Offensive inconsistency, which has plagued Saint Mary’s all season, reared its head once again as the Belles finished the match with a disappointing .099 attacking percentage to Hope’s .333, with no Belles player contributing double-digit kills. Last week, however, Saint Mary’s claimed its first victory over local rival Bethel in 15 years. The nailbiting, five-set win (25-22, 15-25, 12-25, 25-15, 18-16) nearly escaped the Belles, who rallied from behind 14-12 in the final set and faced four match point situations.

Olivet is struggling through a five-game losing streak and has dropped six of seven overall. In addition, the Comets have not pushed a single one of its last five matches beyond three sets. Regardless, Schroeder-Biek said Saint Mary’s is not overlooking the Comets, noting the intensity of their play and the strides the program has made.

“Olivet has been known to really play with a lot of emotion against us,” Schroeder-Biek said. “They tend to make for a competitive match. Their program has continued to improve over the last few years. The key factor for us is simply playing our game, together with the intensity to win.”

The match begins tonight at 6 p.m. at the Saint Mary’s Angela Athletic Facility.