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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Team looks to get back on track

Tom Dorwart | Thursday, August 18, 2005

That’s the main idea for the St. Mary’s volleyball team. After doubling their win total each season from 2001 through 2003, the Belles slipped to 6-19 last year. “I feel we have to get back on track because the previous three years we had been making such progress,” Belles head coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. Schroeder-Biek played for St. Mary’s College and served as the head coach from 1991-1996 and then rejoined her alma mater in 2000 again as the head coach. The veteran coach had back surgery in the middle of last season and was forced to miss the second half. To add to the team complications, several of the Belles’ top players were on sabbatical for a year to study abroad, and several were lost to injury. With the head coach back on the bench for St. Mary’s, the Belles also hope to bring back their winning ways.”I feel 100 percent better going into this season than last season because last season I was going in sick and then ruptured a disc in my back, so having surgery in the middle of the season, it wasn’t a great one,” Schroeder-Biek. “It really pulled us off focus. My mantra this year is ‘back on track.'” After a trying 2004 season, the Belles return four of their top players in junior outside attacker Michelle Turley, senior middle hitter Shelly Bender, junior Anne Cusack and sophomore outside attacker Kristen Playko. With most of that group together during the 2003 season, the Belles finished a respectable 16-13. “I’m really excited about the core that we have coming back,” Schroeder-Biek said. “It’s a very strong core that we have coming back.” Other players returning include Talia Matry-Vacaro – who played her first year with the Belles before traveling abroad last year – and Amanda David. “Amanda is an athletic, good, strong, sound player,” Schroeder-Biek said.While they have yet to win a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in their program’s history, the Belles’ talent this year could carry them towards the top of the conference standings. “They [the team] played a lot this summer. We are not deep in setting, but they are a good team,” Schroeder-Biek said. “They all get along very well.”When asked about any aspirations for this season, Schroeder-Biek answered quickly. “To get back on the winning track and climb our way back up the ladder.”