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SMC Volleyball: Saint Mary’s defeats Alma in four sets

Michael Ginocchio | Monday, September 9, 2013

For the second time in as many days, the Belles picked up a win in conference play with a four-set victory (25-21, 16-25, 25-22, 26-24) over the Alma Scots on Saturday. 

According to Belles coach Toni Elyea, strong defense from players like junior libero Meredith Mersits played a key role in earning the win for the Belles (3-4, 2-1 MIAA).

“I felt our defense did a great job coming up with big plays when they were needed,” Elyea said. “Our (junior) libero Meredith (Mersits) not only did a great job on defense, but she also did a great job running our offense out of system.”

Mersits contributed a match-high 17 digs and four service aces. In addition to Mersits’ play, the Belles benefitted from strong showings from sophomore outside hitter Katie Hecklinski and junior outside hitter Kati Schneider. Schneider had 16 kills with 11 digs, while Hecklinski chipped in with 11 kills and tied Mersits for a match-high 17 digs. 

Their performance was critical to the Belles’ come-from-behind victory, a fact not lost on Elyea.

“Kati and Kathryn had a great match for us,” Elyea said. “They both had a double-double and found ways to score versus a great defense. [Junior outside hitter] Brooke Fowler also had a great match for us. She was able to come up with great kills at key moments in the match.”

After winning the first set 25-21, the Belles were quickly matched by the Alma as the Scots took the second set 25-16. In the third set, Alma was at one point up 19-11. The Belles responded by scoring 12 of the next 13 points, and after taking the third set 25-22 endured another tight set in the fourth by facing a 23-24 deficit before ripping off three consecutive points to take the set and the match.

Coach Elyea said she was proud of her team’s resiliency, and said she sees it as a sign of better things to come.

“We were happy with the win at Alma,” Elyea said. “They are a very tough competitive team. We know that it is still early in the process and we have a lot to work on…[but] to come back, from being down eight points, and come up with a win on the road showed a lot of heart.”

The Belles resume play on September 11, when they travel to Olivet, Michigan, to take on the Olivet Comets at 7 P.M.

Contact Michael Ginocchio at mginocch@nd.edu