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SMC Volleyball: Belles endure difficult season

Vicky Jacobsen | Friday, May 20, 2011

Despite opening their conference season with a victory for the first time in 11 years, the young Belles squad struggled to a 5-21 finish, winning just three of 16 conference matches.

The season looked promising when Saint Mary’s defeated Albion College Sept. 10 in straight sets in their first conference match of the season. Junior setter Danie Brink started in the match, serving three aces, accumulating 30 assists and earning recognition as MIAA Athlete of the Week. But Brink’s season was cut short just a few days later when she suffered a season-ending injury in a match against Calvin College, dealing a serious blow to a Belles squad that was already short on veterans.

The next Saint Mary’s victories came at the Manchester Invitational, where the Belles won two matches on the first day. The squad had two more conference victories over the course of the season, defeating the Britons for the second time at Albion College and prevailing over Adrian College in a five-set thriller. The season ended in the first round of the MIAA tournament when No. 6 Hope College defeated the Belles in three sets.

Despite a disappointing record on the court, the Belles still had several notable accomplishments.

Junior libero Meghann Rose surpassed the 1,000 digs mark in her third year of play. Senior setter Ellen Huelsmann finished her career with 71 service aces, 82 set assists, 106 kills and 749 digs.

“Huelsmann was the recipient of the team’s Impact Player and Coaches Award at the end of the season,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “She had the fewest attacking errors of the players with at least 300 attack attempts. [She is] this year’s recipient of the Saint Mary’s College Athletic Leadership Award winner.”

She also earned a 4.0 grade-point average during the fall semester and the team earned a 3.48 grade-point average overall.