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SMC Volleyball: Saint Mary’s prepares for Calvin

Aaron Sant-Miller | Tuesday, September 25, 2012

After a tough five-set loss to MIAA rival Alma, the Belles host nationally ranked conference rival Calvin on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a very tough match,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “They’re the No. 2 team in the country. All of our returners know what kind of the team they are and the talent they have.”

For Calvin (13-1, 6-0 MIAA), that talent starts with senior outside hitter Lizzie Kamp, who is off to a hot start this season. She has already earned player of the week awards twice, increasing her career total to four. Kamp leads Calvin this year in kills with a total of 211, setting an average of 4.4 kills per set all while hitting 33 percent.

“We’re facing one of the best hitters in the country in Kamp, which we know will be tough,” Kuschel said. “We’re facing one of the best setters in the country too. They are a very tough defensive and offensive team.”

Junior setter Megan Rietema has also earned player of the week honors this fall, her sixth such career honor. Rietema leads Calvin in assists with a sky-high total of 493. On top of that impressive number, the 6-foot-2 junior also leads the team in blocks with 54.

Despite the challenges Calvin poses, the Belles (8-6, 4-2) remain confident.

“We’re going to go in and play our best volleyball, play our game,” Kuschel said. “We’re going to bring the same level of intensity, as well as the same level of communication and effort, we brought this weekend versus Alma into that match against Calvin.”

Following last week’s stellar showing, sophomore outside hitter Kati Schneider was named MIAA player of the week. Last week, Schneider had a total of 59 kills, while also providing strong defensive help with 35 digs. This season, Schneider leads the team with 173 kills.

Saint Mary’s is tied for fourth in the MIAA with a 4-2 conference record. For the Belles, this has been a result of solid team play and the team stepping up to a high level of opposing play so far this season Kuschel said.

“We’ve been playing very well; we’ve been winning and winning is good,” Kuschel said. “We’re getting a lot of opportunities to play great teams in our conference and we’re rising to our challenge.”

On Wednesday, the Belles look to continue this trend against the second-best team in the nation.

“I feel good about how our team played this last week and I’m looking for more of that to come in this upcoming week,” Kuschel said.

The Belles host rival Calvin College for their seventh MIAA match at 7:00 p.m.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu