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SMC Volleyball: Hecklinksi leads Belles to victory over Alma

Samantha Zuba | Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Belles beat Alma 3-1 in four tight sets Wednesday at home and pushed themselves back to a winning conference record.
Saint Mary’s (8-11, 6-5 MIAA) had struggled of late, but the team seems to be coming together, Belles coach Toni Elyea said.
“I think we’re playing great volleyball,” Elyea said. “We’re continuing to let teams in sometimes, and we’re letting them get key runs of three or four points. We need to run and execute plays which we’ve had a bit of trouble with but we pulled together tonight.”
The Belles defeated Alma (9-11, 4-7) in four sets 25-23, 25-23, 16-25 and 25-22. Elyea said that several players turned in great performances in the victory.
“We had a great contribution from [sophomore outside hitter] Katie Hecklinski, 17 kills and 14 digs, which was another double-double for her this season,” Elyea said. “Defensively, [junior outside hitter] Kati Schneider had 18 digs and [junior libero] Meredith Mersits had 23.”
Saint Mary’s posted a .122 attacking percentage in the first set compared to the Scots’ .194 percentage but had the advantage in total kills with 15.
The Belles hitters committed nine attacking errors in the first set but improved in each game until they posted a .265 attacking percentage with just four errors in the fourth set. Aggressive serving helped Saint Mary’s create better attacking opportunities, Elyea said.
“We decided that we were going to serve much more aggressively, which allowed a lot more free balls to come over from them, which we were able to capitalize on,” Elyea said.
Hecklinski led Saint Mary’s with 17 kills. Junior middle hitter Melanie Kuczek smashed 10, and Kati Schneider added eight.
The Scots’ only win came in the third game when Alma outhit Saint Mary’s 12 kills to nine and earned the largest victory margin of the night, 25-16. Senior middle hitter Lea Klooster sparked Alma’s offense with 16 kills and a .441 attacking percentage.
The Scots committed few attacking errors, but the Belles kept Alma’s offense off-balance with strong serving after the third set, Elyea said. Mersits (23), Schneider (18) and Hecklinski (14) secured the Belles defense with digs.
“We did not serve aggressively [in the third set],” Elyea said. “They ran their middle extremely well. Lea was on fire tonight, and she just did a tremendous job. We served much more aggressively in the fourth set.”
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