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SMC Tennis

Belles roll in win against conference foe Albion

| Monday, April 20, 2015

Saint Mary’s notched a comfortable victory over struggling conference foe Albion on Saturday in Albion, Michigan.

The Belles (11-8, 5-2 MIAA) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead through the doubles flights and never looked back en route to an 8-1 win. Belles head coach Dale Campbell said his team was poised heading into Saturday’s contest.

“We were ready to play,” Campbell said. “We have a really mature team that focused and played well.”

Between them, the Belles’ doubles pairings dropped just 9 games on the way to a doubles sweep. Sophomore Sam Setterblad and senior captain Kayle Sexton led the way for the Belles at No. 1 singles, beating Albion’s pairing of senior Irene Chen and junior Margaux Kabodian by a score of 8-4. Campbell praised the No. 1 team as playing a pivotal role in sparking the Belles’ success on Saturday.

“I think winning the No. 1 doubles court was big,” Campbell said.

Senior captain Shannon Elliott and junior Andrea Fetters followed suit, defeating Albion’s No. 2 doubles team 8-2, while junior Margaret Faller and freshman Maddie Minaudo finished off the doubles matches with an 8-3 victory at the No. 3 flight. Campbell said once again the doubles performance was critical, but she said she knows there can be improvements going into their final week of play.

“We just want to continue to improve our movement [in doubles], staying ready at the net and being more aggressive,” Campbell said.

The only match lost on the day was at No. 1 singles, where Fetters fell to Chen in a super-set tiebreak 10-7. Fetters took the first set 7-6 but dropped the second 0-6 to setup the tiebreak.

The rest of the Belles’ singles matches were straightforward results, dropping just 11 games over their five wins. Sexton, at No. 2 singles, faced little resistance on her way to a 6-0, 6-1 win, while fellow senior Jackie Kjolhede triumphed 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3 singles. Elliott, Faller and freshman Bailey Oppman all also earned singles victories to round out the win for Belles.

Saint Mary’s is back in action today against North Central in its first non-conference match since a 7-1 win over Bethel on April 9. It will be the first action for the Cardinals (13-5, 4-3 CCIW) since April 12, when they swept Aurora 9-0.

While forecasted rain may cause Monday’s match to be canceled, Campbell said the Belles’ game plan will stay the same if the game progresses.

“Our focus would be to just play the best we can,” Campbell said. “[And to] play hard until the end with all nine matches.”

The Belles — who are ranked third in the conference standings — are on the cusp of securing a spot in the MIAA tournament with one game remaining. A win in Wednesday’s contest with Kalamazoo would secure the berth for the Belles and Campbell said that was the major focus this week.

“The main goal would be to finish strong and try to beat Kalamazoo,” Campbell said. “That could improve our seed in the conference tournament.”

If the match proceeds, the Belles will host the Cardinals on Monday at 4 p.m.

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