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SMC Volleyball: Belles victorious in hotly contested match

Aaron Sant-Miller | Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In a heated back-and-forth five-set match against conference opponent Kalamazoo, Saint Mary’s hung tough, winning the fifth set to claim its third MIAA win.

“It was a really close match, especially at the end,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said. “We’re very happy and proud of the win.”

After winning the first two sets 25-20 and 27-25, the Belles (7-5, 3-1 MIAA) dropped the second two to a resilient Kalamazoo (3-11, 0-5 MIAA). Still, Saint Mary’s hung tough and claimed the fifth set 15-13.

The Belles were led by a strong offensive outing from sophomore outside hitter Kati Schneider. Schneider led the team with a career-high 22 kills, while also providing a strong defensive effort with 12 digs. The 22 kills were the most by any player during Kuschel’s four-year tenure.

“I can’t ask for anything better,” Kuschel said. “That’s the best she’s ever hit for us. She really led the team well tonight with that double-double.

“Schneider really had an excellent game. Her and [senior setter] Danie [Brink] got in a great rhythm tonight which was huge for us.”

For the Belles, Brink also had a notable outing, leading the Belles with 48 assists.

“She is just an amazing addition to our team and we’re so happy to have her back this year,” Kuschel said. “She was great behind the line tonight with four service aces and was also effective at the net when we needed her. She really stepped up tonight.”

Brink, the only senior on the team, has been a great leader for the Belles this season Kuschel said. Against Kalamazoo, she continued to be a model for the younger players.

Still, the Belles had a strong overall team performance outside of those two players Kuschel said. Defensively, the Belles were led by freshman outside hitter and defensive specialist Katie Hecklinski. Hecklinski had another impressive outing with a team-high 21 digs. Yet, close behind her was sophomore defensive specialist and libero Meredith Mersits with 18 digs.

Despite the impressive performance, the Belles still have room to improve, Kuschel said.

“We weren’t quite firing on all cylinders [against Kalamazoo],” Kuschel said. “We played excellent volleyball and were very good with our transition game this past weekend. We’ll need that to continue if we want to keep winning matches.”

For the Belles, a big weekend lies ahead, when the Belles face off in two more conference matchups, against Olivet and Alma.

“We need to be stronger at the net blocking-wise,” Kuschel said. “We know we can do better blocking, so we’ll be looking for that to improve this weekend against Olivet and Alma.”

The Belles will do just that on Friday in the first of the two MIAA matches when they host Olivet at 7 p.m.


Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at [email protected]