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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Belles host Adrian in final home game of season

Ryan Kiefer | Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What a difference a week makes – or so the Saint Mary’s volleyball team hopes.

The Belles (9-12, 3-6) take to the Angela Athletic Center floor tonight to face Adrian College, a team to which they lost last Wednesday in three one-sided games.

The game marks the Saint Mary’s final home match of the regular season. Tonight’s match will be followed by six MIAA road contests to conclude the year.

Despite the 30-15, 30-21, 30-18 loss last week, Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek feels confident entering tonight’s contest.

“They are a very good team, but they are beatable,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We saw some things last week we think we can take advantage of.”

Schroeder-Biek said that Adrian’s blocking was lax at times. She also thought that the Belles could win some easy points if they made the Bulldogs move and shift their defense more.

Adrian’s strength is a powerful attack game led by two-time MIAA player of the week Lindsay Eshelman. While the Belles were able to hold the outside hitter to a .256 hitting percentage in last week’s meeting, other Bulldogs stepped up. Adrian had five players tally hitting percentages over .500, as they recorded 68 kills to the Belles’ 29.

Schroeder-Biek thought her team played adequate defense, despite the numbers. She felt her offense, though, was sluggish at times. She attributed the lackluster performance to a lack of intensity.

“We didn’t all compete [last week]. It wasn’t everybody, but some of the girls looked intimidated out there,” she said.

The Belles should be confident entering tonight’s match, coming off a 1-1 weekend that saw the team play with heart and desire. The Belles rebounded from a tough five-game loss to Albion with a convincing four-game win over Olivet, avenging an earlier loss to the Comets.

Schroeder-Biek thought that mimicking this weekend’s focus and intensity would bring the Belles success tonight.

“We need to compete like we did out there on Saturday. Each individual needs to bring a sound mental game,” she said.

Adrian (14-4, 6-3) enters the game in fourth place in the MIAA, two places ahead of the Belles. They split two matches this weekend, losing to second-place Alma before sweeping Tri-State.

Saint Mary’s will be honoring its two seniors tonight in their final home game.

Talia Matury-Vacaro will finish her second year with the team. The middle hitter played her freshman year, but study abroad and injury prevented her from playing the past two seasons. She rejoined the team this year and has proved a valuable asset for the Belles off the bench this season.

Shelly Bender will finish her fourth season with the Belles. She has shown a great deal of improvement over four years and has anchored the Saint Mary’s defense all year at the starting middle hitter position. She leads the Belles with 19 blocks in conference play this season.

Schroeder-Biek acknowledged that Senior Night has provided an added motivation for her team.

“We have two great seniors. Playing the last home game is something special for them, and their teammates recognize that. They want to play well for the seniors.”