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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Belles hoping to rebound at Wooster College Invitational

Kevin Brennan | Friday, September 9, 2005

The Saint Mary’s volleyball team needs a confidence boost.

After losing three of four matches at last weekend’s Elmhurst Invitational, the Belles dropped their MIAA season opener Wednesday, losing to rival Hope College in four games. As Saint Mary’s (1-4) prepares to participate in this weekend’s Wooster College Invitational, head coach Julie Schroeder-Biek thinks the team must improve on its mental state and preparation.

“We’re just going to start from ground zero,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We’re going to work our way back up, and I’m just trying to narrow their focus. Right now, that’s my big focus – the confidence issue.”

The Belles used Thursday’s practice to try to iron out some of these issues. Schroeder-Biek said she concentrated less on technical or strategic adjustments, focusing instead on eliminating frustration and keeping her team motivated.

The tournament kicks off on Friday with the Belles taking on Mount Vernon Nazarene and Muskingum College. Saint Mary’s then faces Bluffton on Saturday morning. Once the preliminary matches are done, the eight-team field will be re-seeded and elimination rounds will continue for the rest of Saturday.

Schroeder-Biek expects the competition at the tournament to be strong, especially with perennial power Muskingum in the field.

The Belles participated in the Wooster College Invitational in 2003 and lost in the championship match. The team is excited to return to the tournament and hopefully post another similar result.

Saint Mary’s views this weekend as an opportunity to get the season back on track before moving deeper into MIAA play. At the start of the year, the Belles set the goal of making significant strides in the MIAA standings this season, after finishing seventh in the nine-team conference in 2004. Schroeder-Biek wants her team to approach Friday and Saturday as if they were playing in crucial conference contests.

“I want them to really get into the mental mode and the competitive mode to face every match as a conference match, because the conference is so important to us,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We all have to start thinking like that.

“Everything is important. Every point is important. Every time you step out on that court, you are stepping out to win.”

Despite the recent setbacks, Schroeder-Biek feels good about the Belles’ chances heading into the weekend’s match-ups. The coach thinks that an improved mental outlook combined with her players’ abilities should help Saint Mary’s make a serious challenge for the tournament title.

“We just need to get our confidence back, and I’d say we have an excellent chance,” Schroeder-Biek said.