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SMC Volleyball: Belles prepared for conference tourney

Samantha Leonard | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

After going 2-3 in their matches over six days, the Belles will head into the MIAA tournament tonight against Tri-State with one day of rest.

Saint Mary’s began fall break with two matches Oct. 20 against conference foe Kalamazoo and Defiance. The Belles swept by Kalamazoo 3-0 (30-28, 30-27, 30-27), but rebounded to beat Defiance 3-0 (30-26, 30-22, 30-25).

“We lost [junior middle blocker] Cathy Kurczak for the season due to illness. So, Kalamazoo was our first match without her that first day of break,” Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. “We had some adjusting to do … [junior] Kaela Hellmann moved from the outside attacking position to the middle and [sophomore] Kathleen Mills stepped into the outside position that Kaela vacated.”

The Belles had only one day off before they took on Alma on Oct. 22, and they were in for a shock in the opening game. They, however, pulled the game out and defeated Alma 3-1.

“Our strongest game [of the week] was against Alma,” Schroeder-Biek said. “Alma had made some line up changes and were so much stronger than the last time we played them earlier this season. They caught us off guard that first game of the match and beat us solid.Their blocking was incredible. Games two through four though, we came out strong, determined to win and made them chase us.”

With the win versus Alma under their belts, they had only one more day off before taking on first-place Calvin.

No. 16 Calvin took out Saint Mary’s 3-1, but three Belles had 10 or more kills. Hellmann had 13 kills to go along with her team-best 14 digs. Freshman outside hitter Andrea Sage notched 12 kills and tied Hellmann with 14 digs. Sasgen also had two solo blocks and three block assists. Sophomore middle blocker Lorna Slupczynski rounded out the double-figure kills with 11.

In the final match of the week against Tri-State – who will be the first team Saint Mary’s will face in the MIAA tournament – Saint Mary’s lost 3-1 (30-26, 30-23, 27-30, 30-22).

To get ready for the tournament, Schroeder-Biek said the Belles will need to put everything into perspective.

The fifth-seeded Belles will play fourth-seeded Tri-State tonight at 7 p.m. in Angola, Mich.