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SMC Volleyball: Belles to face tough competition at Millikin

Samantha Leonard | Friday, October 12, 2007

Saint Mary’s hits the road this weekend to take part in the Millikin Invitational in Decatur, Ill. Taking a break from conference play, the Belles will face Franklin, Fontbonne, Central Iowa and host Millikin in the two-day event. Although none of these teams are in the MIAA, Saint Mary’s coach Julie Schroeder-Biek has studied up on her opponents.”I have learned a little about our opponents by reviewing their stats online,” Schroeder-Biek said. “It just helps us to mentally prepare for our opponent, and get an idea of what we are up against.”Schroeder-Biek said she looks at a variety of statistics to better prepare her team.”Do the majority of their attacks come out of the middle or the outside or is it a pretty balanced attack?” Schroeder-Biek said. “Does their setter have a lot of attacks – is she an offensive threat? As a team, do they have a lot of aces? What kind of blocking team are they – what is their size versus our middle, outside? You can learn a lot about teams that you have never seen if they have a decent Web page.” The Belles are on a two-game losing streak after dropping conference matches to Hope and Olivet. Schroeder-Biek said her team will try to improve on different aspects of the game and will do some things differently on the court. “Of course, we continue to perfect our current offensive systems and are experimenting with some new systems as others have become more confident in their new positions,” she said.The Belles will face opponents who have had varying degrees of success this season. Millikin has a 14-10 record with a strong offense. Franklin College, 5-11, started its season off strong but is now going into the event with a three-game losing streak. Fontbonne is coming off a strong conference match and has a record of 9-11 overall. Finally, Saint Mary’s will face Central Iowa, a very tough team with a 16-6 overall record. After three matches with nationally-rated foes last weekend, Central Iowa is No. 21 in the CSTV/AVCA Division III coaches poll. “I would like to see each and every player bring their own intensity and drive to win with them,” Schroeder-Biek said. “Everyone needs to feel that and see that in their teammates.”The Belles will face Franklin first tonight at 5, Fontbonne tonight at 7, Central Iowa at 1 p.m. Saturday and Millikin two hours after the beginning of the Central Iowa game.