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SMC Volleyball: Belles to take on conference rival Albion

Aaron Sant-Miller | Wednesday, September 12, 2012

After claiming their first conference win over Albion last Saturday, the Belles will look to start a winning streak in the MIAA as they face off against rival Adrian tonight.

“They’re going to be a tough team,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “We’re going to be focusing on what we need to do on our side of the net to win.”

For the Belles (5-1, 1-1 MIAA), that starts with improving their play, Kuschel said. Despite claiming a four-set win Saturday, Kuschel said the Belles can play stronger.

“We need to play better than we did this weekend,” Kuschel said. “We had a lot of unforced errors what we’re just not really happy with, that we need to clean up.”

Thus, for the Belles, sharpening their game is key. This sentiment resonates with the players, sophomore defensive specialist Samantha Grady said.

“We need to go out there and play our game no matter who’s on the other side of the net,” Grady said.
Saint Mary’s wants to dictate the flow of the game, Kuschel said.

“We have to play more consistent volleyball and control the tempo of the game if we want to get the win on Wednesday,” Kuschel said.

For the Belles, Adrian (4-4, 0-3 MIAA) is a hard team to read. This offseason, the Bulldogs hired a new head coach in David Kwan. Prior to his time at Adrian, Kwan served a nine-year tenure at Defiance College. There, Kwan was able to claim three top-three finishes in the conference, including a second-place finish in 2008.

“With a new coach and a lot of new players, they have a lot of new faces on their roster.” Kuschel said. “We don’t really know what to expect this year. It’s a new team with a new coach, so I’m sure a lot of things have changed.”

Last year, the Bulldogs struggled through a rough season. With an overall record of 8-21 and a record of 5-11 in the MIAA, Adrian stumbled to a seventh-place finish in the conference.

Yet this year, Adrian started 4-0, going undefeated in the Battlefield Classic on Sept. 1. Since then, the Bulldogs have dropped four straight, including MIAA losses against Trine, Calvin and Hope.

Despite the challenge Adrian presents, Grady said if the Belles play well and support one another, Saint Mary’s will come out on top.

“We’ve been playing well as a team,” Grady said. “As long as we pick each other up, we will be fine.”

For the Belles, Wednesday’s match will also be their home opener. As a result, there is added excitement.

“It’s always great to play at home,” Kuschel said. “The girls are excited to get out in front of the home crowd and show everyone what we’ve been working on for the last two-and-a-half-weeks.”

The Belles will look to do just that as they take on Adrian in their third MIAA match. Saint Mary’s hosts the Bulldogs tonight at 7 p.m. in the Angela Athletic Facility.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at [email protected]