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SMC Volleyball: Saint Mary’s ends seven-game losing streak to Bulldogs

Samantha Leonard | Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In Saint Mary’s season opener Sept. 4, the Belles lost to Adrian in straight games – extending the Bulldogs streak to seven consecutive wins over the Belles. That streak was broken Tuesday when Saint Mary’s beat Adrian in five hard-fought games.

“Tonight it all really just came together,” senior Amanda David said. “We have been having some really good practices this past week, and it really showed in tonight’s game.”

The Belles (7-10, 4-5 MIAA) took game one easily 30-24, but could not keep momentum going into game two.

Bulldogs outside hitter Lindsey Eshelman had multiple kills at the Belles’ feet to give Adrian an early lead. After getting down 6-13, the Belles began to rally back. But after a strong effort by both teams and multiple lead changes throughout the game, the Bulldogs (11-7, 8-2 MIAA) came out on top 30-28.

Game three was an even tougher match for the Belles. The Belles and Bulldogs were neck and neck the entire game, but multiple errors by the Belles gave Adrian its second game at 32-34.

With two losses in a row, it seemed the Belles were going to fall to their conference foe again. Saint Mary’s, however, kicked in the intensity.

They started the game with six unanswered points and never lost that lead, taking game four 30-22.

Saint Mary’s also dominated the match’s final game, beginning with five unanswered points. Adrian fought hard, but could not catch Saint Mary’s. The Belles finished the game with a 15-8 score, sealing the win and breaking its losing streak against the Bulldogs.

The Belles team leader was sophomore outside hitter Lorna Slupczynski who had a career-high and match-best 27 kills to go along with her match-high 19 digs in the win.

Freshman middle blocker Andrea Sasgen gave a stand-out performance as well with 13 kills, 16 digs and a team-high three service aces, while her senior counterpart setter David had a season-best 65 assists and 14 digs.

Head coach Julie Schroeder-Biek was glad to see Sasgen and David begin to come together.

“Andrea [Sasgen] and Amanda [David] have had their struggles connecting this season on the quick attacks,” she said. :But they just started putting in some extra time together, and even though it has not been much extra time yet, the improvement showed. [Sasgen] had her strongest offensive game yet. She also really pulled out some strong serves when the team needed it most.”

Another standout was junior middle blocker Kaela Hellmann, who tallied up the third double-double effort of the night with 13 kills and 13 digs. Junior middle blocker Cathy Kurczak and freshman outside hitter Jacee Watson also contributed 15 and 10 kills, respectively, in the win.

“I was incredibly happy with their play tonight,” Schroeder-Biek said. “They really executed well. I felt like every member of our team came to compete tonight.”

Although she was excited and glad for the win, Schroeder-Biek is ready for the next conference match Thursday against Hope.

“As wonderful as this win was, it is over,” she said. “We now only carry the confidence gained from that win along with the momentum of that win into our Hope match. We started the second half of our season off right, but we have got to keep our focus on the here and now – one match at a time to achieve our goals.”

The timing of the win may provide dividends later in the season with playoff implications arising.

“This was a really big win for us, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” David said. “We struggled a little with our serving but the team came together and overcame it. If we can keep this up we will really challenge some teams in the second half of our season.”

The Belles take on the third-ranked team in the MIAA conference, Hope, Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Angela Athletic Facility.