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SMC Volleyball: Belles open MIAA tourney against Calvin

Samantha Zuba | Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Belles closed out the season strong with three straight wins and will play at top-seeded Calvin in the first round of the MIAA Tournament on Friday.

The top four teams in the conference made the tournament, and Saint Mary’s (12-14, 8-8 MIAA) earned the fourth seed after defeating Adrian 3-2 in the last match of the regular season. Hope and Trine also made the tournament.

Calvin’s only loss of the season came on Oct. 18 when the Knights (27-1, 15-1) fell in five sets to Hope (28-1, 15-1). Hope and Calvin finished the season ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, respectively.

Calvin defeated Saint Mary’s 3-0 in both regular season matchups.

The Knights have outspiked opponents by a wide margin this season. Calvin’s hitters have posted a .307 attacking percentage on 1,235 kills compared to .081 on 807 for opponents.

Sophomore outside hitter Maggie Kamp leads the Knights with 377 total kills for an average of 4.19 per set. Junior outside hitter Ellie Diepersloot and junior middle hitter Emily Crowe tie for Calvin’s second most prolific hitter with 184 kills each. Saint Mary’s has 174 blocks on the season and have limited opponents to a .184 attacking percentage. The Knights have made few service errors in posting a .911 serve percentage. Calvin’s offense has racked up 1.81 service aces per set. Saint Mary’s has allowed opponents to score only 1.54 service aces per set. Opponents, however, have a slight edge with 154 total service aces compared to 153 for the Belles.

Senior libero Kristen Zietse has anchored the Knights’ defense with 435 digs. Belles junior libero Meredith Mersits has been nearly as active for Saint Mary’s with 430 digs.

Belles coach Toni Elyea praised Mersits for her leadership throughout the season.

“Meredith is a great competitor,” Elyea said. “She has done nothing but improve her game in every way possible this season. She is a three year captain for us here at Saint Mary’s. Her vocal leadership is unmatched and something that this team feeds off of.”

Calvin’s front row has recorded 1.98 blocks per set against 1.12 for opponents. The Belles have been blocked 2.12 times per set.

Saint Mary’s faces Calvin on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Grand Rapids, Mich., at the Van Noord Arena.

Contact Samantha Zuba at [email protected]