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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Belles defeat Kalamazoo

Ryan Kiefer | Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Saint Mary’s was glad history repeated itself Tuesday night in Kalamazoo.

In a match eerily similar to the one the teams played last month, the Belles prevailed over Kalamazoo College in five games, with a final score of 30-21, 30-28, 28-30, 25-30, 15-13.

The Belles defeated the Hornets (2-13, 6-22) in their previous match in similar fashion, winning the first two games before dropping the next two and finally winning the fifth 15-13.

“It was almost like instant replay out there,” Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said.

The Belles came out strong and dictated play throughout much of the first game. After struggling in the second before pulling out a victory, the Belles fell flat in games three and four.

“We really struggled to get in our grove in the third and fourth game,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Saint Mary’s sluggish play continued into the fifth as the Belles trailed 9-5 in the final game before winning 10 of the final 14 points in the match to secure the victory.

Playing close games has become a habit for a Saint Mary’s. The team is 5-2 in five-game matches. Four of the five conference wins for the Belles have come in five-game matches.

Schroeder-Biek said her team did not bring their best game Tuesday.

“We didn’t play our strongest,” she said. “We shouldn’t have struggled as much as we did. Kalamazoo is a good program, but they are in a rebuilding year right now.”

Despite the sluggish play, the Belles pulled through with a crucial victory that put them in sole possession of fifth place in the MIAA with a 5-10 conference record, 11-16 overall. With one regular season game remaining against Albion, Saint Mary’s has the opportunity to secure its highest finish in the MIAA since 1999 when the Belles finished fourth.

Schroeder-Biek recognized the magnitude of the win in relation to the conference standings.

“It was an incredibly important win for us,” Schroeder-Biek said.

The Belles’ struggles were partly due to new positioning. The team was forced to implement changes following last week’s injury to setter Amanda David. Michelle Turley stepped into the setter role last week and has played well despite her inexperience at the position. Turley recorded 57 assists in Tuesday’s victory.

Schroeder-Biek spoke about some of the adjustments her team made Tuesday.

“Michelle has a higher set than Amanda, so the hitters had to adjust their timing a bit,” she said. “Everyone has to think about different things in their new positions. We struggled with this at times tonight, but in the end it clicked.”

One Belle that was playing her natural position was Marisa Gross at Right Side. Gross recorded a personal high 18 digs and was a key contributor to the Belles victory.

“That was really a confidence builder for Marisa. She really stepped up and played her position. I thought she was one of the solid rocks out there for us tonight,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Kristen Playko also played a key role for the Belles recording 17 kills and 21 digs. Shelly Bender had 16 kills and Anne Cusack led the Belles’ defense with 31 digs.

With an exciting victory in hand Tuesday, the Belles were confident heading into Thursday’s contest with Albion.

“We’re glad we pulled that one out tonight, and we are excited about the challenge later this week,” Schroeder-Biek said.