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SMC Volleyball: Belles work to end six-match skid

Mike Ginocchio | Friday, October 4, 2013

After a solid start to the season, the Belles (5-10, 3-5 MIAA) have been in a slide as of late, having dropped their past six matches.

With a match tonight against Kalamazoo, the Belles look to break that streak and get back on track.

According to Belles coach Toni Elyea, the key aspect the team has been struggling with has been the mental toughness needed to finish, something the Belles have been working on all week.

“We have been working a lot these last two days on our mental game and staying in control,” Elyea said. “We have all of the tools that it will take to get the win. It will be a matter of being consistent and executing the key plays to do so.”

The Hornets (8-9, 4-4) have also been on a slide, having dropped their last five matches after starting the season 8-4. Elyea said one of the keys for the Belles to win will be stopping Kalamazoo sophomore outside hitter Nya Greenstone, who leads the Hornets with 161 kills and 2.82 kills per set. Elyea added Saint Mary’s must play in a more balanced way itself.

“We will need to be aggressive at the service line as they have a well balanced attack from their middles and outsides,” Elyea said. “Nya will be a player we will have to shut down if we want the win. We will need our hitters to be efficient and our defensive players and serve-receive to continue to do what they have been doing this whole season.”

For the Belles, key players to watch include freshman setter Clare McMillan, who has complied 517 assists this season and averages a strong 9.07 assists per set.

Junior outside hitter Kati Schneider leads the Belles with 230 kills this season and a 3.97 kill-per-set average, while sophomore outside hitter Katie Hecklinski checks in second with 149 kills and a 2.57 kill-per-set average. Elsewhere, the Belles will rely on the strong defense of players such as junior middle hitter Melanie Kuczek, who leads the team with 40 blocks.

Ultimately, Elyea said after losing several games that went down to the wire, the key for the Belles will be having the drive to finish the job each game.

“We need to continue to believe in each other and ourselves,” Elyea said. “This team has so much talent and chemistry, that when they decide that they want to win … they will.”

The Belles will take on the Hornets tonight at Saint Mary’s at 7 p.m.

Contact Mike Ginocchio at mginocch@nd.edu