The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC Volleyball: Belles earn wins vs. Alma, Olivet

Michael Blasco | Monday, October 13, 2008

After dropping consecutive conference matches for the second time this season, Saint Mary’s had the chance to make a statement against some of the MIAA’s best and worst.

The Belles (14-7, 7-5 MIAA) avenged an early-season loss against Alma and swept Olivet at an MIAA mini-tournament at Olivet on Saturday. The Belles claimed a tough, four-set victory (25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20) over the Scots (17-8, 9-3 MIAA), while disposing of the Comets (4-18, 0-11 MIAA) in straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 25-21).

Saint Mary’s coach Julie Schroeder-Biek praised the fortitude of her team, which has struggled offensively in recent matches.

“Our approach to this weekend was … [to] keep going forward and finish strong,” she said. “I have been incredibly proud of my team for how well they have responded to teams that have defeated us, Adrian and Alma [for example], and turning around to defeat them in the second [meeting].”

The Belles began play Saturday at 1 p.m. against Alma, who defeated Saint Mary’s in a four-set match earlier this month. While the Belles burst out of the gate with a .283 attacking percentage to drop the Scots in the opening set, Alma’s defense – among the conference’s best – clamped down and held Saint Mary’s to a .140 attacking percentage for the rest of the match. The Belles relied on their own smothering defense to grind out the four-set win.

Sophomore defensive specialist Meghann Rose led Saint Mary’s with 29 digs, while senior hitter Kaela Hellmann added 22 of her own along with 11 kills. The kills leader was junior hitter and offensive leader Lorna Slupczynski, who tallied 13 kills as well as 12 digs. Freshman setter Dani Brink totaled 33 assists for the match while adding four service aces. Saint Mary’s posted 9.5 blocks beside 83 digs to keep the Scots in check.

“The Alma win came at a great time for us,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We had just come off back to back conference losses, and my team just responded so well [to the earlier losses].”

In the 3 p.m. match, the Belles dropped woeful Olivet for the second time this season, adding another three-set victory to their earlier win. In what is becoming a template for success, the Saint Mary’s defense fueled the win, while the offense posted a pedestrian .167 attacking percentage. Slupczynski again led the Belles offensively with 14 kills, while Rose added 20 digs. Brink tallied 13 assists, while Hellmann finished with 9 kills, a service ace, and 1.5 blocks.

Saint Mary’s hosts conference-opponent Calvin Tuesday evening at the Belles’ Angela Athletic Facility in Notre Dame, Ind. The 7:00 p.m. match will give Saint Mary’s an opportunity to avenge a brutal, three-set loss to the Knights three weeks ago.