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SMC Volleyball: Belles to play mini-tourney

Joe Meixell | Friday, October 10, 2008

After dropping consecutive conferences matches for the second time this season, Saint Mary’s has a chance for redemption at this weekend’s MIAA mini-tournament. The Belles (12-7, 5-5 MIAA) open competition Saturday morning against Alma (15-6, 7-2 MIAA) before taking on league doormat Olivet (4-16, 0-9 MIAA) in the afternoon match.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek has acknowledged her squad’s struggles, but said she still believes it has the ability to make a run in the MIAA.

“We have been struggling through a few things offensively, primarily with just learning each other – new setters learning the tendencies and strengths of their attackers and attackers learning the same things about the setters,” Schroeder-Biek said. “[But] 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.”

Last Friday, the Belles dropped a match against the Scots, who cruised to victory in four sets (25-15, 25-21, 18-25, 25-15). Alma’s stingy defense held Saint Mary’s to an anemic .124 attacking percentage while tallying 91 digs and 7 blocks; the blocks, in particular, killed several rally attempts from the Belles, swinging momentum toward the Scots.

Saint Mary’s offense, which has been at times inconsistent this season, didn’t give itself any help, as the Belles committed 18 errors, including 11 from junior hitter Lorna Slupczynski. Slupczysnki, Saint Mary’s leading scorer, has been the catalyst for the offense all season. Alma senior hitter Kim Gillhespy dominated offensively, finishing with match-highs in kills (15), attacking percentage (.324), and service aces (three).

Olivet, on the other hand, has dropped six of its last seven and remains winless in the MIAA so far. The Comets have posted a .103 attacking percentage this season while posting only 16.7 digs per game. As a result, Olivet has been outscored 1693-1363 overall this season.

Senior hitter Mackenzie Heator “leads” the Comets offense with 136 kills on the season, tallying a .176 attacking percentage, while sophomore setter has accumulating 399 assists. Senior hitter Lindsay Talent paces the squad defensively with 275 digs, while also totaling 135 kills. Despite Olivet’s struggles and the Belles issuing a 3-0 drubbing last month, Schroeder-Biek is not overlooking the Comets.

“Olivet has been known to really play with a lot of emotion against us which makes for a competitive match,” Schroeder-Biek. “Their program has continued to improve over the last few years.”

Saint Mary’s begins play at 11:00 a.m. against Alma, before taking on Olivet at 3:00 p.m. Olivet is hosting the tournament at its Cutler Event Center in Olivet, Mich.