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Saint Mary’s holds off Tri-State run for win

Ryan Kiefer | Wednesday, September 28, 2005

After winning games one and two, the Saint Mary’s volleyball team was shaken by the Thunder Tuesday in games three and four.

The Tri-State University Thunder, that is.

Luckily for the Belles, they rebounded to defeat Tri-State in game five to take the match three games to two, 30-25, 31-29, 28-30, 26-30, 15-11.

It was the fifth time this season that Saint Mary’s has gone the distance in a match. The Belles have won four of those matchups.

Despite the win, Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek thought her team lacked a killer instinct Tuesday.

“The team knows they could have won in three [games],” she said. “We need to play the game from start to finish and not relax.”

The Belles were in position to close out the match, leading 26-24 in the third game. A fired-up Tri-State squad roared back, however, winning six of the final eight points to take the game.

“We relaxed and we were out of position,” Schroeder-Biek said. “They gave 100 percent in that third game and we didn’t. They deserved to win that one.”

Saint Mary’s jumped ahead in the fourth game, too, winning 10 of the first 12 points, including an ace from Shelly Bender. The Thunder was able to slowly chip away, however, trimming the lead to 17-16. A quick 6-1 spurt from Saint Mary’s seemed to seal the win at 23-17. Tri-State rallied again, though, exposing holes in the Belles defense. The Thunder closed the fourth game with a 13-3 run and tied the match at two games apiece.

The Belles refocused in game five, taking an 8-4 lead they would never relinquish. Kristen Playko sealed the victory with a kill on the game’s final point.

Schroeder-Biek was pleased with the win but was puzzled by her team’s inability to end the contest in the third game.

“In winning game five, they showed they want to win,” she said. “We need to have the drive and confidence to win in three. Our confidence is just not there yet. I know my team can win in three,” she said.

Saint Mary’s started the game slowly.

“[We were] asleep the first five or seven points,” Schroeder-Biek said.

The Belles rallied during the first game, though, putting together a run based on strong floor defense. This triggered solid offense and allowed the Belles to control play for the remainder of game one and into game two. Consistent play put them in position to end the match in game three.

The win was crucial for the Belles in terms of conference standings. The Belles improved their record to 8-9 and 2-4 in the MIAA. In the process, Saint Mary’s leap-frogged Tri-State and tied Olivet and Albion for fifth place.

“It was an incredibly important win for us,” Schroeder-Biek said. “Had the game gone the other way, it would have sent us in a direction we don’t want to go.”

The Belles will look to sharpen their game and increase their focus this week before hosting Bethel College in a non-conference contest Saturday.