The Saint Mary’s volleyball team will take on the Calvin Knights for the second time in five days tonight, but with much more on the line.
The No. 7-seed Belles play their first round game of the MIAA tournament against the No. 2-seed Knights, a team that dominated Saint Mary’s 3-0 on Saturday. The game was never close, and the Knights took the second set 25-4, the worst set score for the Belles all year. The Knights also swept the Belles 3-0 in the Dig for the Cure match on Oct. 6.
The Belles are currently on a seven-game losing streak, finishing the regular season with a sweep by non-conference foe Hanover. However, Belles coach Toni Kuschel said she hopes to have her starting middle hitter, junior Andrea Sasgen, back from injury for the playoffs. Sasgen, prior to her injury, had been an asset on offense, providing a second threat apart from primary target of senior captain Lorna Slupczynski. Sasgen notched a total of 181 kills, which is currently third highest on the team behind Slupyczynski and freshman outside hitter Stephanie Bodien. She also has been an asset on defense, accumulating nine solo blocks and 47 total blocks, both of which lead the team.
The Knights, on the other hand, are hitting their stride at just the right time, winning six of their last seven and amassing an overall record of 26-4. In conference play, their only trouble has come against Hope College, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, whom they lost to 3-2 and 3-0 in the regular season.
Other than that, the Knights have been the MIAA powerhouse they have been historically, outscoring opponents 2475-1995 over the course of the season. The Knights have won the tournament the past four years, not including last year when the semifinals and finals were cancelled due to illness on Hope College campus, and have finished either first or second in the regular season of every year since 2002.
The match is scheduled for 7 p.m. today. The winner will advance on to play the winner of No. 3-seed Alma vs. No. 6-seed Kalamazoo on Friday.