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SMC Volleyball: Saint Mary’s falls in last game before MIAA’s

Joe Meixell | Thursday, October 30, 2008

Saint Mary’s, in a final tune-up game before the MIAA Tournament next week, dropped a match Wednesday night against struggling Trine to finish fourth in the MIAA this season. The Belles (18-10, 9-7 MIAA) labored to generate any offense in the three set loss (25-22, 25-22, 25-21) against the Thunder (9-18, 4-11 MIAA) at the Trine’s Hershey Hall in Angola, Mich.

Saint Mary’s head coach Julie Schroeder-Biek was not concerned by the tough match, highlighting the ability that her team has shown to bounce back after losses this season.

“Our approach is to keep going forward and finishing strong,” Schroeder-Biek said. “I have been incredibly proud of my team for how well they have responded [to struggles this season].”

The Thunder kept Saint Mary’s in check with stifling defense, tallying an astonishing fifteen blocks alongside 43 digs to hold the Belles to a .126 attacking percentage. Senior hitter Kaela Hellmann lead Saint Mary’s with 9 kills, while fellow senior Kathy Kurczak added 8 kills with a .389 attacking percentage. Junior hitter Lorna Slupczynski, who has been the spark for the Belles’ offense all season, posted only five kills with seven errors in 36 attempts.

Hellmann also paced the team in digs and blocks with 14 and 1.5, respectively. Junior setter Liana Rohr took over duties from freshman Dani Brink, totaling 23 assists on the night.

For Trine, senior hitter Sallie Richardson dominated both offensively and defensively, with 15 kills, 16 digs, and 1.5 blocks alongside her .483 attacking percentage. Freshman hitter Stefanie Pellegrom added 4.5 blocks and a .429 attacking percentage for the Thunder.

After a disappointing 13-18 season last year (6-10 in the MIAA), Schroeder-Biek guided her team to a winning record and a fourth-place conference finish; smothering defense and superlative play from Slupczynski have been the deciding factors in the team’s success throughout the season.

“We need to build on that success,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The players are well aware of what it will take to get to where we want to be. We want to be playing for a championship.”

Saint Mary’s is off until the first round of the MIAA Tournament. With the fourth place finish, the Belles will host No. 5 seed Adrian in the first round of the tournament at Saint Mary’s Angela Athletic Facility on Tuesday at 7 p.m.