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SMC Volleyball: Belles to open up with national champions

By Laura Coletti | Friday, September 9, 2011

The Belles will take on defending national champions Calvin in their home opener Friday.

Saint Mary’s (1-4, 0-1 MIAA) is coming off a 3-1 loss to Kalamazoo on Tuesday. The Belles are looking to rebound from that loss and carry the positive aspects of their performance into Friday’s game.

“We had a great start to the match with a seven-point lead,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “We need to push and finish the set. We need to eliminate unforced errors.”

Eliminating errors and minimizing careless mistakes will be essential in facing a team as talented as the Knights (5-0, 1-0). Not only does Calvin boast a perfect record, but it brings in a team with 12 players at 5’10” or taller, including sophomore setter Megan Rietma, who stands 6’2″ and was recently named the MIAA’s specialty player of the week for the third time in her career.

“Calvin is a very tall, physical team,” Kuschel said. “We will need to hit much better and use their height to our advantage. This will be a great match if we show up and play our game.”

Even though this is the first home game of the year for the Belles, Kuschel says the mental preparation is no different than if it were a road game.

“It’s always about getting better every time we step onto the court,” she said.

Saint Mary’s will rely on strong play from all positions, and will look to players such as junior setter Danie Brink and senior libero/defensive specialist Meghann Rose, who totaled 14 and 20 digs, respectively, to bolster the defense. Freshman outside hitter Kati Schneider and junior outside hitter Stephanie Bodien will be looked to for strong offensive play again, as they had 12 and 11 kills Tuesday, respectively.

The squads will square off at 7:00 p.m. Friday at the Angela Athletic Center.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu