Belles beat Albion in straight sets ahead of Wisconsin tourney
For the sixth time in seven games, Saint Mary’s earned a straight-sets victory, beating Albion 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-16) and moving to .500 for the season.
The Belles (7-7, 4-3 MIAA) took control early on with four consecutive points to take a 4-1 lead in the opening set, and continued to widen their lead over the Brits as the set went on, pulling to an 18-11 lead before a minor Albion fightback brought the score to 19-16. The Belles won seven of the next nine points to hold on, however, securing the set thanks to a kill by senior middle hitter Colleen Kilgallon.
Things did not start well for the Belles in the second set. The Brits took a 7-2 lead, and looked like evening the match up when they held a 19-13 lead. Saint Mary’s, however, took the next four points and then continued to chip away at the lead, eventually winning the set 25-23.
Saint Mary’s started the third set the same way it ended the first, storming to a 10-2 lead. The Brits brought that lead back to 16-12, but the Belles held on, winning the set 25-16 with the winning kill coming from senior leftside hitter Meaghan Gibbons.
Gibbons led the Belles with 14 kills, while McKenzie Todd recorded 23 digs and 8 kills.
This weekend, the Belles will play in the Wisconsin-Oshkosh Tournament. The Belles will play UW-Whitewater and UW-La Crosse at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively Friday, and UW-Oshkosh and Dominican at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively Saturday.
Saint Mary’s was again held scoreless in its search for its first MIAA win of the season, falling 2-0 to Adrian.
The Belles (1-8-0, 0-7-0 MIAA) had the opening chance of the game, as freshman midfielder Kellen Hinchley’s free kick 30 yards from goal was saved. It did not take long for the Bulldogs (4-5-1, 2-4-1 MIAA) to get the first goal, though, taking advantage of an attempted clearance and putting the ball past Saint Mary’s freshman goalkeeper Thallia Robles and into the net after less than seven minutes.
The Belles kept the score at 1-0 going into the break, thanks in large part to a string of three saves in two minutes from Robles just before the end of the half. In the second half, however, the Bulldogs struck early again. The Belles had another chance to score after freshman forward Bella Wiseman headed a free kick down to senior midfielder Kate Vasile, but her shot was saved and Adrian held on to win.
On Saturday, the Belles will meet Alma. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Saint Mary’s.
Saint Mary’s will compete in the ITA Regional tournament this weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with the finals taking place on Monday.
The Belles (0-1) are coming off a season opening 7-2 loss against Grace on Sept. 22. The team lost its three doubles matches that day, but was victorious in two of their six singles matches. Junior Kelsey Kopf, one of the two team members who snagged a singles victory against the Lancers, said lack of time to prepare was a factor in the defeat.
“Our loss against Grace was a tough one, but we did only have one week of practice as a team before that match,” Kopf said. “After a few more weeks of practice, we are looking forward to the ITA tournament this weekend and playing singles and doubles against many different teams, including some that are ranked at the top of our conference. It will be a great opportunity to see what our team can do.”
Four players will compete as singles and three pairs will aim to end the doubles slump in Kalamazoo for the Belles.
Kopf expressed confidence in her team and positivity for the outcome of this weekend’s event as well as the rest of their year.
“We have a deep lineup in singles and doubles, which will hopefully be beneficial in this tournament, the rest of the fall season, and in the spring,” Kopf said. “We’re hoping for the best and preparing for whatever comes our way.”
This will be second of three matches on the fall season for Saint Mary’s, with its spring season starting up in February.
On Tuesday, the Belles finished third place out of three teams in its third MIAA tournament of the season, which was hosted by division rival Hope at The Ravines Golf Course.
Saint Mary’s had recently bested the top-ranked Hope in its second MIAA jamboree by topping the second-place Dutchmen by three strokes.
However, this tournament was different for the Belles, who fell behind Hope (322) and Olivet (323) with a total score of 335. Sophomore Taylor Kehoe led the team with a 5-over-par 77 on the day with three birdies and seven pars to finish second place overall. Senior Courtney Carlson also had a strong showing with a 9-over-par 81 with seven pars and a birdie to earn a spot in the top 10 at sixth place.
Senior captain Ali Mahoney commented on the last tournament’s outcome.
“Tuesday we had girls who played very well and girls who were a bit disappointed in their scoring,” Mahoney said. “We know what we’re capable of; it’s just having that confidence and taking it with us on the course.”
She also said mentality will be crucial to improving this year.
“Maintaining a positive attitude and staying motivated is something we will continue to work on and show on Saturday,” Mahoney said.
The Belles are ranked second in the MIAA standings going into the fourth conference round of the season, hosted by Alma, at Pine River Country Club on Saturday at 1 p.m.