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Belles come through in must-win match

Justin Schuver | Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Belles picked up a much-needed conference win as well as a bit of confidence heading into the home stretch of their season.

Saint Mary’s defeated Adrian at home Tuesday night in four games, 34-32, 24-30, 30-27, 34-32. It was the Belles third win in a row.

“I was very, very happy with our players tonight,” coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “For this being midterm week, I know they’ve had a lot on their minds, but they were able to pull this one out.”

Saint Mary’s (13-10, 3-7 in the MIAA) lost to Adrian earlier in the season on the road in three sets. Schroeder-Biek called that game was one of her team’s worst performances this season, and was extremely happy with the 180-degree turnaround her team showed Tuesday.

Outside hitter Kristen Playko led the team with 26 kills, and also contributed two service aces, 25 digs and five blocks. Setter Lauren Temple added 13 digs, three blocks and 55 assists.

The Belles were aided defensively by their two middle hitters. Elise Rupright had eight blocks, and Shelly Bender collected five blocks.

“Our blocking really improved this game,” Schroeder-Biek said. “Adrian had one of the best offensive players in the conference and we really did a good job handling her and frustrating her.”

The Belles will play three more conference games in a row, with a good chance to make up ground in an already close MIAA race.

“At this point in the season we’re going into every match just trying to better our position,” Schroeder-Biek said. “This was a big win for us in trying to build some momentum.”

Friday night, the Belles travel to Alma College to face the Scots in a key conference game. The Scots defeated Saint Mary’s at home earlier this season.

“Alma is a good team,” Schroeder-Biek said. “But I think that our team, when they play their game and communicate well, can beat anyone.

“We’re starting to go into matches expecting to win, and these girls play hard.”