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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Struggling squad challenges Belles

Ryan Kiefer | Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Belles had one goal this season – to improve upon last year’s campaign.

And improve they have.

Saint Mary’s is two-thirds of the way to matching its win total from last season and has matched its longest winning streak from last year at three games.

The squad will look to continue the upward trend and make it four in a row tonight when they host Olivet at 6 p.m. at the Angela Athletic Center in its second conference match of the season.

The Belles (4-6, 0-1) enter tonight’s match with momentum after sweeping three matches Saturday at the Wooster College invitational to capture fifth place.

The team showed its toughness by bouncing back from two losses Friday.

Olivet (1-7, 0-0) enters tonight on a seven-match losing streak.

The Comets lost all four of their matches over the weekend at the Hanover tournament.

Olivet has struggled in conference play over the last five years, going 7-65 and never finishing higher than seventh in the nine-team MIAA.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek spoke highly of the Comets despite their record.

“We saw them at [the] Elmhurst [College tournament earlier in the year], and they are a much-improved team,” Schroeder-Biek said.

“They will challenge us. They have a strong outside attacker and a number of other good players.”

Saint Mary’s and Olivet had identical 1-3 records at the Elmhurst College tournament.

Schroeder-Biek said it was important for her team to dictate play tonight.

“We have to set the standard,” she said. “We need to play our game and set a high standard. We cannot play down.”

Defeating conference bottom- feeders will be vital if the Belles are to climb the MIAA standings this year.

The Belles and Comets split two matches last season.

Saint Mary’s will place its focus tonight on serve reception, an area where the Belles struggled over the weekend. Schroeder-Biek explained that serve reception is the cornerstone of the Belles offense.

“We need to pass well off the serve to run our offense well,” Schroder-Biek said. “We don’t want our setter [Amanda David] to have to run to the ball and worry about her different options. She is new to the position and is improving, but we need to pass as planned.”