Belles win first tournament of season at Thornapple
Behind the strong play of senior Sammie Averill, Saint Mary’s won its first tournament during head coach Kim Moore’s tenure to tighten its grip on a top-four spot in the MIAA.
The Belles won the third MIAA Jamboree by three strokes, 333-336, over Olivet on Thursday at Thornapple Pointe Golf Course in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“It was great getting our first win of the year,” Moore said. “I’m so thrilled and excited for my team. Thornapple Pointe is such a nice course, but it is one of the hardest courses we play all season. Also, add in the weather we experienced that round, and I was expecting some higher scores.
“I was so proud of our team and the way we continued to keep focus and play one shot at a time. Winning that event gave us a bigger cushion on the third-place position, and it helped us gain some strokes on Olivet, who is just barely holding on to the second spot.”
Averill shot a 79 on the day to finish in second place overall in the individual standings while junior Ali Mahoney and freshman Taylor Kehoe both shot 84 to finish in a tie with each other for sixth place. Junior Courtney Carlson shot an 86 on the day to finish in a tie for 11th place, and senior Katie Zielinski shot a 93 to finish in a tie for 23rd place.
“I told my team that I was very proud of their performance,” Moore said. “I told them that there are milestones in your life that you will remember forever, and that day was one of them for me. I thanked them for giving me my first collegiate win as a college head golf coach.”
Two days after their victory, the Belles finished in second place in the team standings at the fourth Jamboree on Saturday at the Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Indiana.
Averill shot a 77 on the day to finish in first place in the individual standings.
“I am extremely happy for Sammie,” Moore said. “She has put in a lot of effort this year to come back from a shoulder surgery over the summer. It is awesome to see that the hard work she has put in over the past month and a half is paying off. Her putting and her greens in regulation have been much better these past couple tournaments and is a direct result of her stellar playing. I also love seeing her confidence just grow.”
Mahoney shot an 86 to finish in a tie for 12th place in the individual standings, while Carlson shot an 87 to finish in a tie for 14th place. Kehoe shot an 88 to finish in a tie for 19th place, and Zielinski shot a 93 to finish in a tie for 27th place.
Moore said she was happy with her team’s performance given the conditions they played through.
“I wasn’t too disappointed, because Saturday’s conditions were by far the worst we’ve played in this season,” Moore said. “We played in 40-degree temps, rain and 30-m.p.h. winds. Shooting anything in the 330s for a team was good. I was also excited to see that we gained more strokes on Olivet and Hope, who are the two schools ahead of us in the standings.”
The Belles’ fall season ends this weekend at the MIAA End of Season Weekend Jamboree at Bedford Valley.
“We are going to continue to work hard this week in practice,” Moore said. “Working on some short game issues and ball contact for some of the players. I’m just so excited about this weekend because my team has this confidence about them that is really starting to show every time we play.”
Saint Mary’s returns to action Friday at the Benedictine Invitational after getting last weekend off.
“I’m really excited for the Benedictine race this Friday,” Saint Mary’s head coach Jackie Bauters said. “I think having a weekend off was really nice for the team, allowing them to get ahead in classes and some extra sleep. I hope the weekend off enables them to go into this week eager to train and prepare for great races on Friday.”
In their last event, the Belles finished fifth at the MIAA Jamboree. Junior Brittany Beeler, who finished in 13th overall, paced Saint Mary’s at the Jamboree.
“In comparison to some of our other races on the schedule, Benedictine is a smaller race with less significance but provides us with an opportunity to continue to explore our race strategies and race against teams we don’t typically compete against,” Bauters said. “The course was really good to us last year. It’s flat and fast and helped achieve some solid PRs. It would be great for the team to have solid performances this Friday as a confidence boost and to continue to encourage them of what we are working towards and seeing the progress that I’ve seen in practices.”
Bauters said the Belles have what it takes to put together a good showing at the Benedictine Invitational if they follow what they’ve prepared for.
“I think the key to having a successful race on Friday is sticking to and executing our race plan,” Bauters said.
The Benedictine Invitational kicks off an important month for the Belles that will include the Wisconsin-Oshkosh Invite next weekend and the MIAA Championships at the end of the month. The NCAA regionals and NCAA nationals will be held in mid-November.
The Benedictine Invitational is set to begin at 5 p.m. Friday in Lisle, Illinois.
Saint Mary’s suffered its worst loss since at least 2006 Saturday, falling to Alma, 7-0.
The Belles (1-8-1, 1-6-1 MIAA) followed their best defensive performance of the season in last Tuesday’s shutout of Adrian with their worst performance of the season, as they conceded seven goals for the first time in the last 10 seasons. The Belles offense continued its season-long struggle, as it was the eighth time in 10 games the team has been held scoreless this year.
The Scots (4-6-0, 3-5-0 MIAA) outshot the Belles 27-3 in the contest, including a lopsided 19-0 advantage in the first half. The goals were about even in each half, however, as the Scots scored four goals in the first half and three goals in the second half. The Scots utilized a balanced attack as well, as junior midfielder Megan Kalanik led the team with two goals and five other players each scored once in the victory.
The Belles will have to rebound as they prepare for a rematch on the road with Albion tomorrow.
Earlier this season, the Britons (6-5-0, 4-4-0 MIAA) defeated the Belles, 2-0, at Jr. Irish Airport Fields. This time, however, Albion will play host to Saint Mary’s at Alumni Field.
While the Belles have struggled offensively this season, the Britons have averaged nearly two goals per game. They are led by the play of junior forward Domenique Sarnecky, whose eight goals are best on the Britons and more than the Belles have scored as a team (five) this season.
The Belles are set to kick off against the Britons tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Alumni Field in Albion, Michigan.
Saint Mary’s finished 1-3 this weekend in its four matches at the Wheaton Invitational.
Before the tournament, the Belles (11-7, 4-3 MIAA) played a nail biter against conference foe Albion. They prevailed, 3-2, and picked up a conference foe (27-25, 26-28, 21-25, 25-22, 18-16). The match featured 37 ties and 12 lead changes, and each set was decided by an average of only 2.6 points.
The Belles started the tournament on Friday with a 3-0 win over North Central. Junior libero Meaghan Gibbons led the Belles with 14 kills in the match and was second on the team with 14 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist McKenzie Todd contributed a team-high 16 digs, while senior outside hitter Katie Hecklinski added 13 kills and 13 digs in the win over the Cardinals (14-7, 1-0 CCIW). The victory pushed the team’s record to 11-4, which was its best record through 15 games since 2006, when it also went 11-4.
Later that day, however, the Belles fell to No. 12 Wisconsin-Stevens Point in straight sets by scores of 25-15, 25-22 and 26-24. Despite the 3-0 defeat, the Belles received strong efforts from Hecklinski and Todd again. Hecklinski had another double-double, notching 14 kills and 11 digs against the Pointers (18-4, 1-1 WIAC), while Todd led all players with 26 digs in the match.
On Saturday, the Belles dropped both matches. First, the Belles fell in four sets to tournament-host by scores of 25-23, 16-25, 25-16 and 25-16, as they were unable to reproduce the effort that secured them a five-set win earlier this season against Wheaton. Then, in the second match, Wisconsin-Eau Claire defeated Saint Mary’s 3-0, as they won by scores of 25-14, 25-15 and 25-23.
Hecklinksi led the Belles with a total of 21 kills and 31 digs against the Thunder (7-12, 0-1 CCIW) and Blugold (15-6, 1-1 WIAC). Todd added 28 digs, giving her 70 for the tournament (an average of 5.38 per set this weekend) and earning her an all-tournament team selection. Junior setter Clare McMillan led the way with 55 assists on the day for the Belles.
The Belles will next take the court in a conference matchup against Alma on Tuesday night. The Scots (7-10, 3-4 MIAA) come in to the match having won two straight, including a win over an Adrian team the Belles fell to in straight sets Sept. 12. Tonight’s matchup is the first of two between Alma and Saint Mary’s this season.
The Belles and Scots are set to square off tonight at 7 p.m. at Art Smith Arena in Alma, Michigan.