Belles host Hope for Senior Night matchup
Benjamin Padanilam | Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Saint Mary’s prepares for its final home conference matchup of the season Friday against Hope. The match will also count as the team’s Senior Night.
The Belles (15-12, 8-7 MIAA) defeated Adrian on Tuesday to pull into a tie with Alma for fourth place in the MIAA, making Friday’s match against conference leader Hope (26-1, 14-1 MIAA) all the more important.
In the MIAA, the top four teams at the end of conference play qualify for the conference tournament, the winner of which earns an automatic qualifying spot in the NCAA Div. III tournament. While Hope, Calvin and Trine have all clinched their spots in the MIAA Tournament, the fourth and final seed remains open and both the Belles and Alma have the opportunity to claim it.
While a win against the Flying Dutch on Friday night would not ensure the Belles a spot in the tournament — Alma holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Saint Mary’s this season — it would keep the team’s postseason hopes alive. A loss, however, would bring a definitive end to their season.
The Flying Dutch enter the match as the leader in the MIAA and the top-ranked squad in Div. III Great Lakes region. They have also already beaten the Belles once this season, winning decisively, 3-0, Sept. 30 at Hope College. Saint Mary’s has not beaten Hope since before 2006.
As Saint Mary’s prepares for the match, Belles coach Toni Elyea said she believes the team needs to put a greater emphasis on communication and aggressiveness in practice in order to be successful.
“We need to be aggressive at all times and play well as a unit,” Elyea said.
Not only is Friday the final regular season contest for Saint Mary’s, it is Senior Night for the team. Elyea said she believes the match not only provides an opportunity for a big win but is also a celebration of the accomplishments of the six seniors on the team.
“It will be a big night full of gratitude for what these seniors have done for our program and Saint Mary’s College as a whole,” Elyea said. “They have been a true joy to coach. I will certainly miss them, but they have left their mark here and have helped take our program to new levels.”
Leading the way for the Belles, senior captain outside hitter Kati Schneider will take the court at Saint Mary’s for the last time as the team leader in kills, as well as ranking third in digs and fourth in blocks.
The Belles and Flying Dutch meet Friday night at Saint Mary’s at 7 p.m.