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SMC Volleyball: Belles remain upbeat despite sluggish start

Bobby Graham | Tuesday, September 15, 2009

After a disheartening 1-2 record to start off the season, one might say that the tires of the Saint Mary’s volleyball team are, relatively speaking, deflated.

But if you ask Belles coach Toni Kuschel, she will tell you that there is a different feeling about this year’s squad.

“The sky is the limit for this Saint Mary’s team,” she said.

It’s easy to look at the poor record and scoff, but the Belles bring a mix of experience and talent to the roster this fall, which has Kuschel and her players pushing to be at the top of the standings in the MIAA this year.

While Coach Kuschel has her own expectations for this year’s team, she realizes that the fate of the team ultimately lies in the hands of her players.

“A coach can have a clear picture of what they want for their team,” she said. “But the 12 of them are the ones that have to believe and make it happen out on the court.”

An exciting aspect of this team is that they were able to bring in a talented group of freshmen that are contributing right away, particularly Autumn Nelson, Christina Barra, Emily Caltrider and Stephanie Boldien.

“Stephanie [Boldien] is adding a lot to our team both offensively and defensively,” Kuschel said. “She does not look like a freshman out there on the court.”

In addition to Boldien, Kuschel is constantly raising her expectations for these young players as they progress through the season.

“We are lucky to have a lot of great athletes on our roster,” she said. “Now we just need to capitalize on them.”

Helping to guide the freshmen is a strong senior class headlined by outside hitter Lorna Slupczynski. Slupczynski has started the season off by producing some big numbers, including a career-high 27 kills against Trine last Tuesday. She was also named to the All-Capital Tournament team two weeks ago.

Kuschel realizes how important it is to get the ball to their star player.

“We have to get her the ball when the game is on the line,” she said.

The season has had a couple dips early on this season, but as far as the team is concerned, they are primed to reach an all-time high.