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Belles notch first conference victory

Chris Michalski | Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Saint Mary’s volleyball team needed two attempts to notch their first MIAA win of the season this past weekend, losing first to Adrian on Friday before defeating Alma College on Saturday. The loss to Adrian was the Belles’ second five-set nail-biter in a row, with the first being a loss to MIAA opponent Trine University on Tuesday.

Adrian took the first set 25-21 before the Belles turned it around and dominated the second set 25-15 with a .269 attack percentage. After the teams traded the following two sets to force a deciding fifth, the Bulldogs ultimately capitalized on costly Belles mistakes to win the set 15-9.

“This early in the season there are always things you are going to have to work on, but mostly our team needs to learn to communicate on the court and trust one another,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said.

The Belles had little time to think about the loss as they had a quick turnaround with their next MIAA test less than 24 hours later. The first set against Alma was tied 18-18 before the Belles eventually captured it 25-21. The Scots bounced back and were on the brink of tying up the match at one set apiece with a lead at 24-22 before the Belles began their rally.

A pair of kills by freshman Stephanie Bodien and an ace by junior Meghann Rose allowed the Belles to take four straight points and the set 26-24.

The third set was much like the second except the Belles were forced to dig out of an even deeper hole. Trailing 24-19, the Belles won eight of the next nine points including two kills from senior Lorna Slupczynski to win the set 27-25. Slupcynski ended the match with a team-high 21 kills and 19 digs. Junior Andrea Sasgen followed that effort on offense with 10 kills of her own and Bodien followed on defense with 18 digs.

The win brings their conference record to 1-2 and their overall record to an even 4-4.

The Belles will be back on the road to take on a tough opponent in Hope College, undefeated on the year at 6-0. The match will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.