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SMC Volleyball: Belles end season with loss to No. 2 Calvin

Samantha Zuba | Tuesday, November 12, 2013

 

The Belles bowed out of the MIAA tournament Friday with a 3-0 loss to host No. 2 Calvin at the Van Noord Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.

As the fourth seed, Saint Mary’s (12-15, 8-8) drew the No. 1-seeded Knights (29-1, 15-1) for its first round matchup and Calvin defeated the Belles in a sweep 25-11, 25-15, 25-20.

Belles coach Toni Elyea praised her team’s accomplishments in the highly competitive MIAA.

“It was a huge goal that we have had in our minds this whole season,” Elyea said. “It was great to see all of our hard work and leadership pay off by finishing top four in a conference where the number one and two teams in the conference, [Hope and Calvin], are also the No. 1 and two teams in the country.”

Saint Mary’s hung with the Knights in the third game until Calvin pulled away from an 18-18 tie with three unanswered points. The Belles made it a game again at 21-20, but the Knights won four straight points to seal the set and the match.

Freshman outside hitter Meaghan Gibbons led Saint Mary’s throughout the match and to near victory in the third set, Elyea said.

“I felt we played our best in the third set,” Elyea said. “It was tough not having [junior outside hitter] Kati [Schneider] in the match on Friday. I felt that first year Meaghan Gibbons did an amazing job filling that role by leading our team in offense and defense for the night.”

Calvin’s offense doubled the Belles’ kill total, 42 to 21. Only Gibbons (9), junior middle hitter Melanie Kuczek (5), sophomore outside hitter Katie Hecklinski (3) and freshman setter and outside hitter Lexi Grady (2) scored multiple kills for Saint Mary’s. No Belles player posted double figures, although Kuczek recorded a .500 attacking percentage with just one error.

Knights sophomore outside hitter Maggie Kamp and junior outside hitter Ellie Diepersloot led the way for Calvin with 10 kills apiece. As a team, Calvin had a .315 hitting percentage. Senior setter Megan Rietema (.583) and Diepersloot (.526) padded the Knights’ average and committed a combined two errors.

The Belles attempted 79 attacks, compared to Calvin’s 89, but could not minimize miscues as the Knights did. The Belles committed 17 errors while posting a .051 team attacking percentage.

Saint Mary’s received consolation for the loss when Hecklinski and Schneider were named All-MIAA. Coaches selected Schneider for the first team honor, and Hecklinski earned a nod for the second team.

Schneider and Hecklinski will return for the Belles next season, and Elyea said next year holds a lot of promise for Saint Mary’s.

“We achieved all but one goal this year,” Elyea said. “We wanted to have a winning season. We are one win shy of that. We had so many amazing accomplishments this year on and off the court. We will be looking to improve as a team so we will be victorious in those five-set matches next season. We are a great team with so much to look forward to for next year. I could not be more proud of our team.”

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu