Mixed fortunes for Belles squads over weekend
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, September 7, 2015
Saint Mary’s won three of four contests at the Elmhurst Tournament over the weekend in Elmhurst, Illinois, defeating North Park, Lawrence and Wheaton to gear up for conference play.
During Friday’s play, the Belles (4-1) won all six sets en route to wins over North Park (3-3) and Lawrence (1-4). Despite a straightforward 25-14 first set against North Park, the Belles were made to work for the last two, winning 25-22 and 25-21.
Saint Mary’s was led with 10 kills against the Vikings by sophomore right-side hitter Rachel Bonek, who set a career high, and junior left-side hitter Meaghan Gibbons, while junior setter/outside hitter Alexis Grady notched 21 assists.
The Belles’ win over Lawrence was more straightforward, with Saint Mary’s taking the three sets, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-12. After her 10-kill performance earlier in the day, Gibbons set her own career high with 15 against the Vikings in the second contest, and senior outside hitter Katie Hecklinski posted a double-double, with 14 kills and 16 digs.
Saturday’s competition was a little harsher to the Belles, who played a pair of five-set contests, losing to host No. 19 Elmhurst (4-0) before defeating Wheaton (2-2).
The Belles got out to a two-set lead against the nationally ranked Blue Jays, winning the first two sets 25-23 and 27-25, but failed to hang on for the upset; Elmhurst took the final three sets, 25-15, 25-23 and 15-4.
Hecklinski (15 and 23) and Gibbons (15 and 18) led the team in kills and assists, with junior setter Clare McMillan leading in assists, with 27.
Saint Mary’s rebounded in the second game of the day, however, to cap the tournament off with a 3-1 record in a win over Wheaton.
Like in the earlier game, the Belles raced out to a two-set lead behind 27-25 and 25-14 wins, before seeing their advantage vanish as the Thunder snagged 28-26 and 25-14 wins in the third and fourth sets.
In the tiebreaker fifth set though, Saint Mary’s buckled down to grab a 15-9 win, and the match, to finish the weekend. Gibbons re-set her career high with 20 kills for the game and was named to the all-tournament team, while Hecklinski had her third double-double of the tournament to aid in the Belles’ victory. The setting duo of McMillan (28) and Grady (25) led in assists once more for Saint Mary’s, who will now prepare for conference play; the Belles host No. 1 Calvin, which reached the semifinals of the NCAA tournament last season, Wednesday.
Saint Mary’s dropped its home opener Saturday to Manchester in yet another nail-biting 1-0 match.
The Belles (0-2) played their first home game of the season against the Spartans (1-1) at Junior Irish Airport Fields on Saturday. Coming off a narrow 1-0 defeat in their first game against Bethel, Saint Mary’s fell victim to yet another late, first-half goal that ultimately decided the match.
Early on in the game, the Belles applied offensive pressure and had several crosses into the Spartans’ box that were stopped by Manchester freshman goalie Caroline Smith. However, the Spartans’ winner came with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half, when sophomore midfielder Bethany Molnar crossed the ball into the Belles’ box, and freshman forward Mariam Aly was able to get a foot on it to put it into the back of the net. The Belles were then unable to mount a second-half comeback, despite outshooting the Spartans, 5-1.
The next game on the docket for Saint Mary’s is a home matchup with Albion on Wednesday. The game marks the beginning of conference play for the Belles this season.
The Britons (2-1, 0-0 MIAA) also have yet to play a conference game this season but are expected to be competitive in the MIAA. Projected to take third place in the conference in its preseason poll, Albion possesses a strong offensive group that has averaged more than two goals per game on nearly 12 shots per contest.
The Belles, meanwhile, have yet to put the ball in the back of the net this season despite totaling 18 shots in their first two games. The defense, on the other hand, has conceded only two goals on 25 shots against and will need to put forth another strong effort if the Belles are to walk away from tomorrow’s game with a victory.
Saint Mary’s is set to take the pitch against Albion tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Junior Irish Airport Fields.
The Belles finished fourth at the seven-team Olivet Labor Day Tee-Off Tournament this past weekend at the Medalist Golf Course in Marshall, Michigan.
On the first day of the tournament, thee Belles finished with a team score of 343, placing them fourth in the team standings. Junior captains Ali Mahoney and Courtney Carlson both finished the first 18 tied for sixth with individual scores of 81, while freshman Taylor Kehoe finished the day with a score of 87, placing her in a tie for 17th place. Sophomore Kaitlyn Cartone finished with a score of 94, placing 30th after the first day.
On the second and final day of the tournament, the Belles shot a team score of 353 and finished the tournament in fourth place with a two-day score of 696. Mahoney and Carlson matched each other once more, shooting 88 to tie for 15th place in the individual rankings, while Kehoe led Saint Mary’s with a second-day 84 to notch an 18th-place finish. Cartone lodged a 95 to finish 31st among individuals.
Washington University in St. Louis took home top honors at the tournament with a team score of 617, and DePauw and Illinois Wesleyan also finished ahead of the Belles. Olivet, Franklin and Ancilla finished behind Saint Mary’s in fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively.
This weekend, the Belles will host the O’Brien National Invitational at Knollwood Country Club in South Bend on Sunday and Monday.