Belles continue to progress, reach MIAA semifinals
Brennan Lee | Friday, May 19, 2017
After one of the best seasons in program history, Saint Mary’s fell to Hope in the MIAA semifinals on May 4.
The Belles (10-12, 5-3 MIAA) finished in the top-four of the conference to bring them to their fourth-straight MIAA postseason tournament. Coming off the heels of a successful season last year, Saint Mary’s had its ups and downs, according to Belles head coach Dale Campbell.
“I would say a highlight of the season was our growth as a team in doubles,” Campbell said. “We played well against most teams in doubles, getting off to a quick start in matches. We had more options in doubles and we had some big wins. If there is a negative, we probably did not master the fundamentals well enough with our returns of serve, net play, etc. to be able to handle the regionally-ranked and nationally-ranked competition.”
With improvement in play as the year progressed, the Belles concluded the regular season on a strong note. They won seven of their last 10 matches after a rocky stretch in March wherein they dropped five straight.
Nevertheless, the team is already looking forward to next year. Despite four 9-0 shutouts this season, Campbell feels the Belles have the ability to aim higher next season.
“We reached one of our goals by finishing in the Final Four of our conference, but we felt we could have beaten Calvin or Kalamazoo in our conference season to gain a higher seed for our tournament,” Campbell said. “I’m sure that will be a goal for the next season.”
Campbell is excited for the coming season, as only two seniors will be graduating, so the core of the lineup will return.
“We have a very good core back for the next season,” Campbell said. “We lose two starting players in our lineup but have potentially three seniors and three juniors back, as well as some strong incoming first-year athletes. Our team could be a lot better, but it will take hard work in the offseason by the individuals on the team and leadership to get us to that level.”