Belles battle Hornets in MIAA semifinals
Alex Carson | Tuesday, April 29, 2014
After finishing in fourth place in the MIAA for the regular season, Saint Mary’s earned a berth into the conference championship and will head to Kalamazoo, Mich., on Thursday to take on the top-seeded Hornets in the tournament semifinal.
The Belles (11-7, 5-3 MIAA) narrowly missed out on a postseason berth last season after they lost a tiebreaker to Kalamazoo (14-4, 8-0) for the fourth and final spot in the conference tournament. A spot in the postseason was a goal for the Belles all season and now that they have achieved it, the team’s confidence is high, Belles coach Dale Campbell said.
“It’s very nice to [finish in the top four], and it is rewarding in a solid conference such as ours,” he said. “It’s exciting to be in the tournament, and I am happy for our returners who have not made it the last two years.”
The Belles have been led this season by senior co-captain Mary Catherine Faller at the top singles spot. Sophomore newcomer Andrea Fetters has broken onto the scene, going 12-3 in the spring season and rising from the No. 6 to the No. 4 spot in singles play.
It has not been long since the Belles and Hornets last met — the two teams squared off Saturday and the Hornets ran away with the 7-2 win. Campbell said he wants his team to get off to a good start in the doubles flights — which Kalamzoo swept Saturday — when the teams meet again.
“It comes down to footwork and hitting the shots we want,” Campbell said. “I know we can win in doubles, and that is what we expect on Thursday.”
The Belles last played Monday, when they defeated non-conference opponent North Central, 7-2. Campbell said in the two remaining days of practice, the Belles would focus on their own game and try to improve their ability to rally once they fall behind.
“We have to try to figure out how to turn those matches around,” Campbell said. “We just have to be able to execute the game plan. We know what to do and just have to stay in the match, moment by moment. It takes an all-out effort by every member of the team to win.”
If the Belles are able to avenge their loss tomorrow, they will meet either second-seeded Hope or third-seeded Albion on Friday for the conference title, with an automatic berth to the Division III national championships on the line.
Saint Mary’s travels to Kalamazoo, Mich., on Saturday to face the Hornets at noon in the MIAA tournament.