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SMC Volleyball: Belles look to continue win streak

Samantha Zuba | Tuesday, September 10, 2013

After back-to-back conference wins this weekend, the Belles attempt to continue their streak against Olivet today at 7 p.m. in Olivet, Mich.

Saint Mary’s (3-4, 2-1 MIAA) defeated Albion 3-1 on Friday and Alma 3-1 on Saturday to win their first conference matches of the season.
Olivet (2-6, 1-2 MIAA) had a tough in-conference schedule last weekend.

The Comets lost 3-0 to both No. 2 Calvin on Friday and No. 5 Hope on Saturday. Belles coach Toni Elyea said playing ranked opponents is a good competitive opportunity.

“Olivet had some great competition playing the top-ranked teams last week,” Elyea said.

Elyea said Olivet sports some strong senior talent. Comets senior outside hitter Tina Westendorp leads Olivet with 65 kills through eight matches and averages 2.03 kills per set.
Senior right side hitter Stefanie Lang has spiked 45 kills and anchors the Comets’ defense at the net with her blocking ability.

“We know they will be strong at the net, as their numbers indicate that they have been blocking well,” Elyea said. “We know that is a strength of [Lang’s] on the right side, so our outsides will have to read the block and defense well in order to put points on the board.”

Olivet blocks an average of 2.02 hits per set, compared to 1.2 blocks per set for the Belles.

Belles hitters pack some punch to challenge the Comets’ blocking, however. Junior outside hitter Kati Schneider cruised past 100 kills when she recorded 16 against Alma (3-4, 0-3 MIAA). Schneider has crushed 105 kills on the season. Sophomore outside hitter Katie Hecklinski and junior middle hitter Melanie Kuczek round out the Belles’ top three offensive players with 69 and 60 hits, respectively.

Kuczek also leads the Belles with six single blocks and 15 assists.

Elyea said the most important focus for Saint Mary’s right now is improving every day in the gym. Elyea stressed the importance of both individual and team work ethic.

“We have been working very hard on what we need to do in order to be the best team we can be,” Elyea said. “Our Belles come into the gym every day with the intention to get better as individuals, so we can grow into the best team we can possibly be.”

The Belles take on Olivet today at 7 p.m. in Olivet, Mich.

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu