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SMC Volleyball: Belles set to commence MIAA play

Katie Heit | Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Though Saint Mary’s suffered a rough weekend at the Mount Union Tournament, the Belles will look to put the past behind them as they begin conference play against Kalamazoo Tuesday.

Saint Mary’s (1-3) did not have the opening weekend it had hoped for in Alliance, Ohio, falling to Mount Union, Geneva and Mount Saint Joseph by counts of 3-0, 3-1 and 3-1, respectively. There were bright spots, however, including a 3-2 victory over Allegheny and a promising display of teamwork, Belles coach Toni Kuschel said.

“For a very young team, we played very well together,” Kuschel said. “We expected a lot out of our freshmen this past weekend and they delivered.”

Kuschel said the losses have only heightened her team’s desire to defeat the Hornets, who are always tough conference competition for the Belles. Saint Mary’s lost both of their matchups against the Hornets in the 2010 season.

“Kalamazoo has some new faces on their team this season,” Kuschel said. “However, we know who their strong returning hitter is. If we are able to block well and run our offense it should be a great game.”

Kuschel believes facing talented competition this past weekend will only help her team gain motivation against conference opponents.

“Playing such high caliber teams this past weekend, we were able to see what it takes if we want to win in our tough MIAA conference this season,” Kuschel said.

With such a young team, including eight freshmen in the 14-member squad, Kuschel believes the first weekend was mainly about her players getting to know the game with their new teammates.

From here on out, she said, they mean business.

“This season we are going in knowing that every match is a new opportunity to play together,” Kuschel said. “We feel that every match and point is an important one.”

Kuschel said the Belles’ strategy this week will be the same as always.

“If we want to beat Kalamazoo, it will need to be a team effort as always,” she said.

The Belles will take on the Hornets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Anderson Athletic Center.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu