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Belles enter new season hopeful

Justin Stetz | Wednesday, September 1, 2004

A new season brings with it new hope for the Saint Mary’s volleyball team looking to improve upon last year’s record. The Belles host the University of Chicago in a scrimmage tonight at 7 p.m. In the regular season last year, the Belles defeated the Maroons in three straight games.

“Our scrimmages and games against the University of Chicago have always been a great addition to our schedule,” senior Michelle Gary said. “Going into this scrimmage we haven’t focused on the outcomes of last year’s matches, but instead are going in with a stronger, quicker offense and really trying to focus on the team and tightening up our game.”  

After losing a few key players, the Belles will look to seniors Gary, Elise Rupright and Stacy Stark to offer leadership, while juniors Shelley Bender and Michelle Turley will add to an already strong supporting cast.

“This year we have only lost two players, which means that our tight-knit group from last year is still in tact,” Gary said. “We have great communication on the court, and our returning players have allowed us to capitalize on each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Rupright has been chosen again as team captain and remains positive going into the season. Last year she was second on the team with 223 kills and finished first with an impressive 104 total blocks.

After performing strong as a freshman, Anne Cusack will assist in the defensive department along with Gary. Outside hitter Stark and middle hitter Bender both finished among the team leaders last season in total attacks and will look to continue their success.

The Belles concluded the 2003 season with a record of 16-13 overall and 5-10 in the MIAA standings. A first-round loss in the MIAA Tournament last year to Hope College meant an early exit for Saint Mary’s. However, this year the Belles are out to prove they are good enough to take their play to the next level.

“I believe we have a chance to win [the] conference this year,” Rupright said. “There isn’t a single team in the conference that can defeat us if we play our game.”

The Belles begin conference play Thursday at 7:00 p.m. hosting Alma College.