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SMC Volleyball

Belles keep momentum going, go three for four

| Monday, October 13, 2014

Saint Mary’s finished three for four this past weekend at the Elmhurst Invitational in Elmhurst, Illinois.

The Belles (12-9, 6-5 MIAA) defeated Simpson and Bethany on Friday. They opened Saturday with a win over Bethany, but fell to Wisconsin-Eau Claire later that afternoon.

The Belles carried the momentum of two straight conference victories prior to the tournament into the their first match against St. Olaf (8-14, 1-4 MIAC), winning in a 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-13) sweep. Senior outside hitter Kati Schneider, who led all players with 13 kills and 14 digs in the match, became the fifth player in program history to record 1,000 career kills and digs.

With this victory under their belt, Schneider and the Belles headed into their next match against Simpson (10-12, 1-3 IIAC). While the Storm proved a greater challenge for Saint Mary’s, the Belles still walked away with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 17-25, 25-19) victory. The victory was a team effort, as Schneider, senior middle hitter Melanie Kuczek and junior outside hitter Katie Hecklinski all had double-digit kills — 19, 14 and 10, respectively.

Following the two victories on Friday, Saint Mary’s started off its Saturday double-header by avenging an earlier loss in the season opener to Bethany (16-9, 9-1 PAC), posting a 3-1 (25-17, 19-25, 25-22, 25-18) win. Once again, Schneider, Kuczek and Hecklinski all had double-digit kill totals, while sophomore setter Clare McMillan provided a team-high 43 assists.

In their final match, the Belles looked to emerge undefeated, however, in a back-and-forth, five-set match, Saint Mary’s fell to Wisconsin-Eau Claire (11-13, 1-3 WIAC). The Belles took the first and third sets by a 25-22 margin, while the Blugolds won the second set 25-16, the fourth 25-18 and the final set 15-7.

While the team was led by all-tournament team selection Kati Schneider, Belles coach Toni Elyea said she believes it was an all-around team performance this past weekend.

“I was so proud of our team and our performance as a whole,” Elyea said. “Our hitters did a great job at the net this weekend and took their game to a new level. Our defense and servers did the same. The extra effort and communication really paid off. Everyone really played a role in our wins this week.”

Tonight, the Belles go up against Trine (18-3, 7-3), who sits third in the MIAA standings. The Thunder pose a test for Saint Mary’s as the Belles look to carry their current momentum forward. Elyea said the Belles must put in a strong performance to clinch the win.

“[We have to shut] down their setter and [play] aggressively,” Elyea said. “[We] will have to play well in all areas to get the win.”

The Belles and Thunder meet tonight in Angola, Indiana at Hershey Hall at 7 p.m.

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

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