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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Belles to host four home games this week

Ryan Kiefer | Tuesday, September 20, 2005

One game may not be able to determine the course of a season, but one week can.

The Saint Mary’s volleyball team had the weekend off, giving the Belles plenty of time to think about the critical week ahead.

The Belles (5-7, 0-2) have four matches this week, all of them at home and three of them against conference foes. They begin the week with a match against Kalamazoo College (4-9, 0-1) tonight at the Angela Athletic Center.

The Belles face Manchester College Thursday before hosting last year’s top two MIAA teams Saturday, Calvin and Alma.

Belles Coach Julie Schroeder-Biek recognizes the importance of this week’s contests.

“We need to play strong this week to climb the conference ladder,” Schroeder Biek said.

The Belles’ inconsistent play, especially in the area of serve reception, led them to disappointing home losses to Hope and Olivet and has left them at the bottom of the MIAA standings.

Kalamazoo enters with a five-game losing streak after losing their conference opener to Alma and dropping all four matches at the Wittenberg College Border Challenge over the weekend. Despite their record, the Hornets are a disciplined team and have earned the respect of Schroeder-Biek.

“They are always a strong team,” Schroeder-Biek said. “They lost some key players from [last year’s team that finished third in the MIAA], but they will be tough.”

The Hornets swept the Belles in two matches last season on their way to finishing 11-5 in the league.

Saint Mary’s enters the game following a win Thursday against Concordia (Ill.).

The Belles won in five games despite an abbreviated warm up caused by difficulty in finding the gym.

Schroeder-Biek thought last week’s travel troubles may have been a hidden blessing for her team.

“It forced us to come right out and just play,” she said. “We had to focus and eliminate distractions.

“We did and we played very well. We have to do the same this week.”

Schroeder-Biek said that solid defensive play would be critical to her team’s success tonight.

The Belles will try to continue to improve their serve reception and “fine tune” their passing game.

Above all, Schroeder-Biek thought her team’s mental approach would determine their success this week.

“Playing at home can add some different distractions,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We need to have the same mindset as we had on Thursday and play each game with more and more focus.”

Next week, the Belles have two more home games, hosting Tri-State on Sept. 27 and Bethel on Oct.1 at the Angela Athletic Center.