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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Injury sidelines top setter David

Ryan Kiefer | Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Saint Mary’s went 1-2 last week, but the Belles’ biggest loss did not show up in the standings.

In a loss Tuesday at Calvin, setter Amanda David suffered a broken hand, an injury that will force her to miss the remainder of the season. David was a crucial part of the Saint Mary’s attack, averaging 9.27 assists per game.

The Belles, who entered the season without a setter on their roster, were forced to turn to Michelle Turley to fill the void. Despite her inexperience, Turley ran an efficient offense, recording 41 assists in a victory over Tri-State University in five games Saturday.

Belles’ coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said her team adapted slowly to the change at first, but hit its stride Saturday.

“Michelle jumped into the role and ran a good offense,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The rest of the team had trouble adjusting at Calvin, as you can tell by the score [30-11, 30-14, 30-13]. Saturday, though, we played well, and so did Tri-State. We were fortunate to come out with a win.”

The Belles also battled Hope College Saturday and lost in three games. Hope leads the MIAA with a 14-0 conference record.

While Schroeder-Biek wasn’t entirely pleased with her team’s play against Hope, she acknowledged the strength of the conference front runner.

“We pulled ourselves out of the match with some lapses in serve reception. You can’t dig holes against a good team, and Hope is a very good team,” Schroeder-Biek said.

While the offense was slowed at times due to the personnel changes Saturday, the defense was solid all day. Libero Anne Cusack led the way with 52 digs in Saturday’s contest, including 40 in the victory over Tri-State. Cusack leads the MIAA with 5.64 digs per game.

With two conference matches remaining in the season, the Belles are part of a four-way tie for fifth place in the MIAA with a 4-10 conference record. They face last place Kalamazoo in a pivotal match tonight. The Belles defeated Kalamazoo in a five-game nail biter earlier this season.

Saint Mary’s will finish the regular season when it faces fourth place Adrian in another road contest Thursday. The Belles will be seeded anywhere from fifth to eighth in next week’s conference tournament, depending on this week’s results.

Schroeder-Biek’s goal entering the Kalamazoo match was to get Turley comfortable in the setter position.

“We want to get more reps for Michelle to build her confidence,” Schroeder-Biek said.

In addition, the Belles are still adapting to changes in position forced by David’s injury. Middle hitter Shelly Bender will move to the outside to fill the spot vacated by Turley, and senior Talia Matury-Vacaro is expected to move into the middle hitter position.

Lack of experience with the new lineup, accompanied by a new defensive scheme, left the Belles out of position at times over the weekend. Tightening up positioning was a concern of Schroeder-Biek entering tonight’s match.

“We had to shift everything after the injury. We are just trying to get everybody comfortable with everything right now,” she said.