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SMC Volleyball: SMC can take first place with win

Mike Blasco | Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Saint Mary’s squares up tonight against Trine University in an MIAA match at the Belles’ Angela Athletic Facility.

With a win, Saint Mary’s (11-5, 4-3 MIAA) would slip past Albion into sole possession of fourth place in the conference.

Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek has said her squad’s emotion and teamwork was key to the Belles’ winning ways.

“More than anything else I want this team to believe in themselves,” she said. “They have a lot of ability. If they can come together as a team and play as one cohesive unit, we will be in position to be a top team in the league standings.”

The struggling Thunder have dropped nine of their last 10 matches while their offense has tallied an awful .168 attacking percentage over that stretch. Senior outside hitter Sallie Richardson leads the team offensively and defensively with 247 kills, accounting for 4.84 kills per game along with a .259 attacking percentage, in addition to her team-leading 229 digs (4.49 digs per game).

Saint Mary’s has won four of its past five matches, along with four of five MIAA bouts. While the Belles have struggled at times offensively, posting a workman-like .209 attacking percentage as a team, they have held opponents to a .161 attacking percentage with a smothering defense led by sophomore defensive specialist Meghann Rose and senior hitter Kaela Hellmann (234 and 194 digs, respectively).

Junior hitter Lorna Slupczysnki heads the Saint Mary’s offense with 192 kills on the season (3.15 kills per game), while also tallying 174 digs for the Belles. Slupczynski has emerged as a leader both on and off the court for Saint Mary’s, earning All-Tournament honors twice this season.

“Lorna is putting together a fine career,” Schroeder-Biek said. “Her teammates really feed off her energy and on-court play from the outside hitter position. The opponents know she is one of our stronger players and Lorna is going to have to continue to raise her game.”

Keeping the offense running is freshman setter Dani Brink, who as emerged as a key player for Saint Mary’s after the Belles’ leading setter last year, Amanda David, graduated. Brink has accounted for over three-quarters of Saint Mary’s assists this year, totaling 387 on the season.

The match begins tonight at 7 p.m.