Saint Mary’s will compete in its first MIAA tournament of the fall season Monday.
Albion will play host for the first conference round of the year, which is slated to start at 1 p.m. at The Medalist Golf Club in Marshall, Michigan. The competition includes all nine MIAA teams, including the reigning conference champions from the spring season, Hope.
The Belles are coming off a strong showing in their last outing, having finished in first place at the Hanover Fall Classic last weekend. The team was leading by one stroke after the competition’s first day, but the rain shortened the round to nine holes, which the NCAA does not recognize as a scored round. However, the Belles came out strong on day two and built a 13-stroke lead to beat out the event’s host, Hanover. Freshman Lauren Read paced the field by shooting a 77, while sophomore Taylor Kehoe shot a 78 to finish second in the field.
Senior captain Ali Mahoney said the team is excited to build on its recent success as it enters the conference events.
“We’ve been looking forward to this tournament since August,” Mahoney said. “Since it’s the first conference match this year, we really want to show what our team is capable of. Coming off of the first place win this past weekend, we have great expectations for what we can accomplish this season.”
The Belles will tee off at The Medalist Golf Club on Monday at 1 p.m.
Saint Mary’s earned its first conference win of the season in a sweep over Kalamazoo on Wednesday, winning each set by scores of 25-14, 25-16 and 25-22, respectively.
The Belles (2-6, 1-2 MIAA) took an early 6-1 lead in the opening set, and although the Hornets (2-7, 1-3 MIAA) closed the gap, Saint Mary’s pulled away towards the end of the set and won on a kill from junior outside hitter McKenzie Todd. It was the first conference set the Belles have won this season, as they lost in straight sets in each of their previous two conference matches to start the season.
Saint Mary’s dominated the start of the second set, taking a 7-0 lead and soon extending it to 12-2. The Hornets struggled to keep up, as the Belles won the final point on a Kalamazoo attack error for a 25-16 win.
The Belles looked to be in danger of losing the third set, as the Hornets took leads of 14-8 and 16-10 in the set. However, Saint Mary’s fought back to tie the game at 17-17 and won the final three points of the game to win the set, 25-22, and secure the match.
Senior outside hitter Meaghan Gibbons was the standout performer for the Belles, as she led the team with 14 kills and was second in digs with 12.
The Belles will travel to Illinois Tech this weekend for a pair of nonconference matches. They will play Rockford at 2 p.m. Saturday and Illinois Tech at 4 p.m.
Saint Mary’s continues to look for its first conference victory of the season, after falling to Trine on Thursday, 2-0.
The Thunder (1-3-2, 1-3-0 MIAA) applied pressure early on, forcing saves from freshman Saint Mary’s goalkeeper Thallia Robles, but the Belles (1-5, 0-4 MIAA) could not hold off the attack for long, as Thunder junior midfielder Gigi Jarratt fired a shot from outside the box past Robles and into the net.
Saint Mary’s only managed one shot in the first half, but their best scoring opportunity came on a pass that went untouched. Belles freshman midfielder Mary Wandor came close to leveling the score at the end of the half, but couldn’t quite connect with a cross into the Trine box, leaving the score at 1-0 going into halftime.
Early in the second half, the Thunder made it 2-0, as freshman forward Morgan Sanderson intercepted a throw-in in Belles territory and slotted a finish past Robles.
The Belles looked to get back into the game, as sophomore defender Emily Beedie had a shot blocked and Wandor had one saved before a cross from freshman forward Shayleigh O’Donnell narrowly missed senior forward Liza Felix, who was waiting in front of goal.
Despite the Belles’ best efforts to get a goal back, the Thunder held on for a 2-0 victory.
On Tuesday, the Belles will be in action again, in a clash with the 2015 MIAA champions, Calvin. The game begins at 4 p.m. at Calvin.