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SMC Volleyball: Belles hope to end losing skid

Conor Kelly | Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Belles will look to halt a two-match losing streak and gain ground in the MIAA when they take on Olivet today.

The Belles (6-9, 4-6 MIAA) currently sit in sixth place in the MIAA.

Six matches remain on the Belles’ conference schedule as they attempt to push into the top four in the standings and earn a spot in a four-team playoff to determine the conference’s representative at the NCAA tournament.

The Belles are one game behind fifth-place Trine and one-and-a-half behind fourth-place Kalamazoo. A win against seventh-place Olivet (4-17, 2-8 MIAA) will help the Belles distance themselves from the bottom of the league and put pressure on teams above them.

“We need a big win tomorrow,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “We can’t split with everybody.”

Offensively the Belles are led by freshman Kati Schneider who leads the team with 3.17 kills/game. Along with juniors Stepahnie Bodien and Allison Zandarski, Schneider figures to have an opportunity for a breakout game against an Olivet team that has allowed their opponents to hit with the highest percentage in the MIAA. The Comets also have the lowest hitting percentage in the conference.

As it has all year, the Belles’ offense will flow through junior Danie Brink whose 8.44 assists/game is tops on the team and fourth in the MIAA.

“Our offense really needs to step up and run efficiently tomorrow,” Kuschel said. “The defense has been rock-solid the past two weeks.”

When the Belles and Comets met on Sept. 10, Saint Mary’s emerged with a 3-0 win. With just six games remaining on their conference schedule, the Belles need a similar result Wednesday against Olivet if they hope to push into the top four in the MIAA.

“We know that they’ve gotten a lot better,” Kuschel said. “We’ve seen their hitters perform against some of the top teams in their conference, but we know that we’re better as well.”

The match has been dubbed “Dig for the Cure” night by Saint Mary’s, which has decorated the gym in pink for the match.

Officials and players will wear pink to support the fight against breast cancer. In addition, both teams have worked to raise money for the cause.

“Our players have been selling sponsorships per dig that they get [Wednesday],” Kuschel said. “Hopefully we play good defense and raise a lot of money.”

The Belles will take on Olivet at 7 p.m. tonight at Saint Mary’s.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu