Belles head into MIAA Jamboree with momentum
Saint Mary’s is preparing for the MIAA End of Season Weekend Jamboree this weekend at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek, Michigan. Adrian is set to host the two-day event that takes place this Friday and Saturday.
“This being our last tournament of the fall, we are approaching it like any other tournament, but we are a little more anxious,” Belles head coach Kim Moore said. “We’ve come off of two decent events, so we are looking forward to continuing our momentum. We have some work to do so that we can finish in the top 2 and that is our goal.”
The Belles are coming off of a successful weekend, where they finished in first place the third MIAA Jamboree last Thursday with a team score of 333. It was the Belles first tournament win under head coach Kim Moore. Two days later on Saturday, the Belles finished in second place at the fourth MIAA Jamboree.
“This recent momentum has given us a lot of confidence going into this weekend, and I’ve noticed that so far in our practices,” Moore said. “We are still working and preparing like we have for every event, but everyone’s demeanor has changed in a good way, and we are excited to get to Battle Creek, Michigan, on Friday.”
Senior Sammie Averill shot a career-low 77 Saturday to finish as the individual medalist.
“I am so excited and proud of the last two rounds that Sammie has played,” Moore said. “I’m not surprised that she has done so well. She has always had the potential to play that well, I’m just glad she has picked a good time to bring it out. I expect Sammie to continue playing that well this weekend. She is really starting to believe in herself and it is definitely rubbing off on the rest of our team. I’m expecting some good things out of her this weekend.
“Honestly our conference title has been on the line the past four rounds. In golf, you obviously can’t win a multi-round tournament on day one, but you can definitely lose it. We approach each round of our conference jamborees as a one-round tournament, and we want to make sure we stay towards the top. This weekend, being the last two rounds, I expect the top teams to play well and leave it all on the course. I’m confident that we can make up some ground and that we have saved our best rounds for last.”
In one of the more entertaining games of volleyball that will be played this season by either team, Saint Mary’s team fell just short against Alma, 3-2, Tuesday night. In the match, the lead changed hands 26 times, and the Belles (11-8, 4-4 MIAA) and Scots (8-10, 4-4) were tied 50 times.
Only two points decided every set but one (25-23, 33-31, 23-25, 19-25, 17-15), and the Belles came close to rallying from a 2-0 deficit. Junior setter Alexis Grady led the Belles with a triple-double, her second of the year, with a 32-assist, 13-kill and 15-dig performance against the Scots. Junior setter Clare McMillan recorded a double-double on the night, while sophomore left-side hitter McKenzie Todd matched her career high with 26 digs.
In the first set, the Belles pulled ahead 23-22 late, but lost the next three points in a row to end up on the wrong side of a 25-23 score. The second set was a barnburner; Saint Mary’s was down 24-22, but managed to rally to tie the set at 25-25. After a stretch in which Alma had three set points, the Belles pulled ahead at 30-29. However, the Scots converted kills on four of the next five points to win the set 33-31.
Despite losing the second set in dramatic fashion, the Belles rallied back to take the next two sets and forced a decisive fifth one. The Belles jumped out to an early lead in both the third and fourth sets, and also held off a late charge from Alma to claim each set.
In the fifth set, the Belles went up 13-10, but could not hold on, dropping it 17-15.
Saint Mary’s will now travel to No. 5 Calvin on Friday to kick off the second half of its conference schedule.
Saint Mary’s failed to score a goal for the fifth straight game Wednesday, falling to Albion 2-0.
The Belles (1-9-1, 1-7-1 MIAA) continued their season-long offensive struggle, as the team has failed to score a goal in all but two of its games thus far. The Britons (7-5-0, 5-4-0 MIAA), however, repeated their 2-0 victory over the Belles from earlier this season and pushed themselves into fourth place in the conference standings.
The match started off slowly, as both teams failed to score in the first half. However, the Britons were able to control the game in the second half, as they outshot the Belles 13-2. Britons sophomore forward Jenna Urso, who had a game-high eight shots, scored the first goal of the game in the 72nd minute. Four minutes later, Britons junior forward and leading scorer Domenique Sarnecky scored her ninth goal of the season to cap off the 2-0 win.
Looking forward, the Belles will look to rebound when they return home after four straight road games to host Olivet on Saturday.
On Sept. 12, the Comets (8-3-0, 5-3-0 MIAA) played host to the Belles and came away with a 3-1 victory. Currently in third place in the conference, they pose a significant challenge to the struggling Belles squad.
The Belles are set to kick off against the Comets on Saturday at noon at Jr. Irish Airport Fields.