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Belles lose on senior night

Joe Meixell | Thursday, October 12, 2006

Saint Mary’s seniors were honored before Wednesday’s game. But Hope didn’t care.

Despite the Belles’ efforts, the Flying Dutch spoiled Senior Night at Saint Mary’s with a 3-2 comeback victory.

The Flying Dutch got out to a fast start, taking the first game 30-24. The Belles showed their resilience, however, winning six points in a row to come from behind, take the second game and tie the match.

Saint Mary’s used another hot streak to take the third game, employing a 9-2 run to break open a 16-16 tie. Going for the victory in the fourth game, the Belles kept a close lead until late in the game, when the Flying Dutch pulled away for a 30-28 equalizer to knot things at two games apiece.

Hope then used its momentum to control the final game, posting a .409 hitting percentage to Saint Mary’s .000 in a 15-8 win to take the match.

With the win, Hope improved to 15-6 and extended its conference winning streak to five games. Saint Mary’s dropped to 7-5 in the MIAA, 14-7 overall. Currently fourth in the conference, the Belles will look to improve their seeding for the MIAA tournament in the final stretch of the regular season.

Hope’s strong performance was led by sophomore Nora Slenk, who recorded a team-high 19 kills along with her 12 digs. Senior Deena VanAssen had 25 digs to lead the team defensively.

“I cannot say enough about how proud I am of our seniors,” Saint Mary’s coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “On Senior Night, like every night, they showed their huge value and importance to our team as leaders.”

For seniors Anne Cusack, Kristen Playko and Ann Carpenter, the home match was the last of their college careers, and Schroeder-Beck said the three leaders will be sorely missed.

Cusack leads the MIAA with 4.06 digs per game, Playko leads the team with 3.64 kills per game, and Carpenter has tallied 19 blocks on the year. Playko and Cusack both put up tremendous efforts in their last home games – Playko recording a double-double with 20 kills and 21 digs and Cusack tallying 23 digs of her own.

Schroeder-Biek was not disheartened by the results.

“We played a very good team and our players responded well to the competition,” she said. “The team learns from these matches and approaches the next competition with an even stronger will to win.”

Another bright spot in the loss was the performance of outside hitter Lorna Slupczynski. The freshman had a match-high 23 kills and 12 digs for yet another double-double.

Saint Mary’s will try to rebound from the loss in its next match at Alma on Saturday. The team will finish the regular season with three away matches before the MIAA Tournament begins Oct. 31. Schroeder-Biek said the team will not look past their final matches.

“We are in the home stretch with some tough matches ahead of us,” she said. “We just need to take things one game at a time and finish strong.”