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SMC Volleyball: Belles fall victim to Manchester comeback

Mike Ginnochio | Thursday, September 26, 2013


Despite a strong start to the match and some stellar individuals performances, the Belles were unable to capitalize before falling 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-20) to Manchester. The loss marks the Belles’ fourth in a row.

Belles coach Toni Elyea, while pleased with the start to the match, noted the team’s lack of consistency.

“Going into the second and third set I just thought that we lacked enthusiasm,” Elyea said. “A lot of the passes were up tight on the net so we weren’t able to run our middle. The service defense sort of shut down going into the second and third set.”

After taking the first set 25-23, the Belles (5-9, 3-4 MIAA) continued to trade points with Manchester (4-9) in the second before surrendering a late seven-point run by the Spartans to drop the set 25-20.

In the third, the Spartans jumped to an early 6-1 lead, and when the Belles battled back, Manchester again capitalized with a late five-point run on their way to taking the set 25-19. In the fourth and decisive set, the Belles held a slim 7-6 lead before the Spartans went on a tear, scoring nine of the next 10 points. Manchester took the set 25-20, and subsequently the match.

Despite the disappointing finish, Elyea praised the standout performances of junior outside hitter Kati Schneider, sophomore outside hitter Katie Hecklinski, junior libero Meredith Mersits, and junior middle hitter Melanie Kuczek.

“We had some players doing some great things, like Kati Schneider finishing the night with 17 kills, or Kati Hecklinski with 16 kills,” Elyea said. “On defense, Meredith had 27 digs. She came up with a lot of really great plays. The first set, Melanie did just a great job tonight, she finished the night with ten kills and three blocks. We weren’t able to run her as efficiently in the middle as we should have.”

Elsewhere for the Belles, freshman setter Clare McMillan finished with 38 assists.

Ultimately, Elyea knows that while great individual performances are always something to build on, the tipping point between winning tight games and losing tight games is the ability to play mistake-free.

“We need to be efficient at the net,” Elyea said. “We can’t go in and hit a .154 [attack percentage]. We have to put the ball away when there’s an opportunity to do so.”

The Belles resume play Oct. 1, when they travel to Adrian to take on the Bulldogs. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.