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SMC Volleyball: Belles use free weekend to gear up for Hope

Aaron Sant-Miller | Tuesday, October 2, 2012

After a tough home loss to No. 2 Calvin on Wednesday, Saint Mary’s took a much-needed weekend off to prepare for their match against No. 4 Hope.

Going into the match against Calvin last Wednesday, the Belles were coming off playing eight games in less than two weeks.

“This was our first weekend off the whole season,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “We were definitely in need of a break. We’re hoping that rest and recuperation time will give us some fresh legs and some fresh perspective going into the match.”

The Belles (8-7, 4-3 MIAA) are looking to compete in a close conference race Tuesday against Hope (14-2, 6-1 MIAA). To make the MIAA tournament, the Belles would have to finish as one of the top four teams in the conference. As of now, the Belles are in fifth place – a half game back of Trine and one game back from Alma.

“We’re excited to go on the road and play another nationally-ranked team that’s also in our conference,” Kuschel said. “We’re excited to get back into conference play after a long weekend.”

Despite a tough loss to Calvin, Hope managed to get back on track last Wednesday with a sweep over Trine. Currently, the Flying Dutch hold a firm grasp on a second-place seat in the MIAA.

Hope’s impressive record has been partially due to the strong play of sophomore outside hitter Jenna Grasmeyer. Currently, Grasmeyer leads the Flying Dutch with 247 kills, while hitting at an impressive 34.7 percent. To counter her strong play, the Belles will have to play strong as a team and work together, Kuschel said.

“She’s a great player, that’s for sure,” Kuschel said. “We have to play extremely tough, disciplined defense. We have to win the serve and pass game tomorrow night to be able to play our best.”

For the Belles, team play and depth have been a strong point so far, Kuschel said. Saint Mary’s has three different players with more than 115 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Kati Schneider leads the team with 183 kills.

“We want to go in and play our best volleyball,” Kuschel said. “That’s always our goal.”

Saint Mary’s is next in action 7 p.m. Tuesday at Hope.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu