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SMC Volleyball: Belles head to Albion for MIAA season finale

Conor Kelly | Friday, October 28, 2011

The Belles will travel to Albion on Friday for their final game of the season and the last match of senior Meghann Rose’s career.  The South Bend native and the Belles’ lone senior will lead Saint Mary’s (7-17, 5-10 MIAA) against the Britons (3-23, 0-14) in a match between two teams that are out of contention for the MIAA championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Saint Mary’s looks to halt an eight-match losing streak that has seen the Belles fall out of contention and toward the bottom of the league standings.

“It’s definitely a heartbreaker to have lost the last eight like we have. We’ve been right there, but just haven’t been able to pull out wins,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “We just haven’t been playing at the level that we’re capable of.”

Despite Albion’s winless record in-conference, it will be no pushover, Kuschel said.

“I expect for them to play us tough,” she said. “My goal for us is to play up to our level and get a solid win to finish the season.”

While Rose is the Belles’ only senior, a strong cohort of underclassmen have led the team throughout the season and will do so again against the Britons.

Freshman Kati Schneider leads the squad in kills, followed by juniors Stephanie Bodien and Allison Zandarski. The trio will marshal the offense against a plucky Albion defense that has proved to be a thorn in the sides of MIAA teams throughout the fall.

Though the core of the team will return next year for another season, for Rose, the match will be her final one in a Saint Mary’s uniform. The senior captain has started at libero since her freshman year and led the team in digs each season.

“This is our last chance to play together as a team,” Kuschel said. “And for Meg, this will be her last chance to play with her teammates, the girls that she’s had such an influence on over the last three years.”

In a season that has seen Saint Mary’s fall short of its playoff aspirations, Kuschel and the Belles hope that a win against Albion will be a welcome bright spot to end the year and an opportunity to build momentum for 2012.

The Belles take to the court against Albion at 7 p.m. in Albion, Mich.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu