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SMC VOLLEYBALL: Saint Mary’s falls in 5th-place fight

Ryan Kiefer | Friday, October 28, 2005

Watching Saint Mary’s battle Albion in Thursday’s regular season finale, the average fan may have thought the two teams were battling for a conference title.

In reality the teams were fighting for fifth place in the MIAA.

Despite a strong effort, the Belles fell to Albion in three grueling games 30-27, 33-31 and 36-34.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek complimented Albion on the team’s ability to play at the top of its game at a crucial point in the season.

“That was the best I’ve seen Albion play,” Schroeder-Biek said.

Albion came out strong and dictated play throughout much of the first two games. Schroeder-Biek thought her team played well enough to compete, but couldn’t reach to the next level to get the win.

“We were definitely chasing them much of those first two games,” she said. “We knew we could play better.”

Service errors and difficulty with serve reception also added to the Belles’ woes early in the match.

Albion carried the momentum into the third game and jumped out to a 13-2 lead. The Belles seemed destined for quick defeat in the third until Marisa Gross provided a much-needed spark off the bench. The sophomore entered and served the Belles to 10 straight points following the side out to knot the third game at 13 apiece.

“Marisa really sparked us again tonight. She really brought our team together out there,” Schroeder-Biek said.

The teams battled point for point the rest of the way before Albion won the final two points to claim the marathon game.

Schroeder-Biek put the loss in perspective.

“It was just two teams fighting for fifth place,” she said. “It took a lot of stamina and we played hard, we just didn’t get the result we wanted.”

The loss snapped a five-game conference-losing streak for Albion and marked the second time this year that the Belles fell at the hands of the Britons. Saint Mary’s lost a five-game decision to Albion on Oct. 8.

Kristen Playko led the Belles’ offense with 16 kills and also added 15 digs. Shelly Bender had 10 kills and 11 digs. Anne Cusack led the defense with 21 digs and Michelle Turley led Saint Mary’s in assists with 33.

The loss dropped Saint Mary’s to No. 6 in the MIAA behind Albion. The Belles’ 5-11 conference record matches their mark from last season when they finished No. 7.

The Belles will turn their attention to the MIAA tournament next week where they will most likely face Alma in a first-round match Tuesday.