The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC VOLLEYBALL: Albion overcomes Belles

Ryan Kiefer | Wednesday, October 12, 2005

For one game Tuesday it looked like the Saint Mary’s volleyball team would send its seniors off with thrilling upset win.

The Belles couldn’t pull it off, however, as Adrian College (15-4, 7-3) rebounded from losing the first game to take the match in four games 25-30, 30-24, 30-26, 30-21.

After the Belles (9-13, 3-7) came out flat in a three-game loss to the Bulldogs last week, they were determined to bring more energy and determination to this final home match of the season. They came out on an emotional high following ceremonies for seniors Shelly Bender and Talia Matury-Vacaro and took an 11-4 lead on the strength of a 10-1 run. Strong serving from Kristen Playko and determined defense put a powerful Adrian team back on its heels. The Bulldogs struggled to find rhythm in their offense and found themselves trailing the Belles 22-14.

Adrian hit their stride toward the end of game one, using a 9-1 run to cut the Saint Mary’s lead to 24-23. A crucial Belles block of Adrian’s Lindsay Eshelman on the next point propelled Saint Mary’s to the game one win.

Belles Coach Julie Schroeder-Biek was proud of her team’s performance in the first game.

“We had the mental edge,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We were ready to go and determined to challenge them tonight. The girls got out early and continued to focus.”

The second game was closely contested, with the Belles jumping out to the early lead behind consistent defense that included several digs of powerful Adrian kill attempts. The Bulldogs asserted themselves with an 8-1 run that extended their lead from 16-14 to 24-16. Five quick Belles points shifted the momentum back to the Saint Mary’s side, but the Bulldogs were able to fend off the Belles’ surge and tie the match at a game apiece.

With the game tied 8-8 in the third game, a long point fell the way of the Bulldogs and gave them an early lead. They held the lead until the Belles took advantage of a service error from Eshelman to go ahead 19-18. Short serves, however, victimized Saint Mary’s at the end of the third game and allowed Adrian to set up easy kills. Three kills by Eshelman in five points gave the Bulldogs a 27-23 lead that they rode to victory.

Deflated from their game-three loss, the Belles struggled to find their offense in the fourth game. Communication errors led to missed kill attempts and put the Belles behind early. The Belles clawed back to cut the Adrian lead to 20-18 following a stellar defensive point, but they could not muster the momentum to overtake a Bulldog team that never trailed in the match’s final game.

Schroeder-Biek thought a lack of cohesion on the court contributed to the loss.

“We didn’t stay as one unit out there,” she said. “We weren’t solid working together. Little things brought people down and prevented us from being consistent. We played well in waves, but it wasn’t enough.”

Kristen Playko led the Belles with 18 kills, while Michelle Turley added 16. Anne Cusack contributed 20 digs, while Amanda David had 41 assists.

The Belles will look to rebound from the loss when they face Alma on the road Saturday. Saint Mary’s will play its final six matches on the road this season.

Schroeder-Biek hopes her team will gain confidence from tonight’s match and pull together as a team for the stretch run.

“They [Adrian] have a very good team,” she said. “I’m very glad to see we can challenge them. I hope my team sees what it can do if we play together all the way through. I hope we can see our potential.”