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SMC Volleyball: Belles rally past Comets

Sports Writer | Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It took the entire allotted five sets, but after falling early to Olivet, Saint Mary’s rallied back in thrilling fashion to take the match 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-10). 

The momentum shifted in the  third set for the Belles. With the score tied at 13 and both teams having traded points back and forth, the Belles (9-11, 7-5 MIAA) broke it wide open. Saint Mary’s went on a five-point run, building an 18-13 lead they never relinquished, and later added another five-point run at the end of the set to take it 25-19 and ultimately swing the match in its favor.

Belles coach Toni Elyea noted the standout performance of junior libero Meredith Mersits (24 digs) and junior middle hitter Melanie Kuczek (12 kills).

“I think Meredith [Mersits] just did a fantastic job on defense tonight,” Elyea said. “She really ran our system well. I think Melanie [Kuczek] hit very well this evening, and she also blocked very well.”

Another key player for the Belles was freshman setter Clare McMillan, who continued her impressive season by adding a game-high 46 assists. The performance was not lost on Elyea.

“[McMillan] really has been doing just a tremendous job,” Elyea said. “She has fast hands, she’s getting the ball in the hitters’ hands where it needs to be, and I’m very proud of her.”

The Belles started the match slow, dropping the first set 20-25 after a 1-7 start and losing control of the second at the end, losing 21-25. Despite being happy with the win, Elyea sees room for improvement.

“[We need to work on] executing the plays,” Elyea said. “The playcalling from Clare has gotten much better, but we made a few too many unforced errors tonight. We need to execute the plays that we want to run.”

The Belles don’t have much time to rest, with a match looming this Friday against Trine (10-13, 4-7 MIAA). 

“They’ve got two tremendous outside hitters,” she said. “We’ll need to block extremely well on the outside and be able to read the hitters much earlier than we did tonight. We can play with them.”

The Belles travel to Angola, Ind., to take on the Thunder on Friday. 

Contact Michael Ginocchio at mginocch@nd.edu