Saint Mary’s volleyball finishes third in MIAA; soccer loses last two games of season
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Saint Mary’s finished its 2016 regular season with two more wins, tying a school record for MIAA wins with an 11-5 conference record, good for third place in the MIAA.
The Belles (15-13, 11-5 MIAA) defeated Albion 3-0 (25-22, 25-9, 25-7) Saturday, on the strength of a season-high .308 team hitting percentage. In the opening set, the Belles took 8-4 and 15-11 leads, and although the Brits (18-11, 7-9) closed the gap each time, the Belles won the set thanks to a block from junior rightside hitter Rachel Bonek. The following two sets were far more comfortable for the Belles, who stormed to a 10-0 lead in the second before winning 25-9. Saint Mary’s then won 11 of the final 12 points of the match to claim the final set 25-7. Senior Meaghan Gibbons led the game in kills with 15.
In the opening set against Trine, the Belles took a 14-8 lead, and despite a Thunder rally that closed the difference to 19-18, Saint Mary’s held on to win the set 25-21. The Belles and Thunder (3-26, 2-14 MIAA) were tied at 11-11 in the second set after four consecutive Trine points, but the Belles pulled away in the second half of the set to win it 25-17. In a tight third set, the Belles found themselves down 19-14, but fought back to earn a match point. After the Thunder won the point and tied the game on the Belles’ first three match points, the Belles won the match on the fourth to secure one of their most successful conference campaigns. Senior Alexis Grady had 41 assists, while Gibbons and Bonek had 15 kills each.
The Belles secured the third seed for the MIAA tournament. The Belles will play No. 5 Hope in the semifinals in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday.
Despite a close overtime encounter with Adrian on Saturday, Saint Mary’s finished the 2016 season without a point in conference play after defeats in their final two games.
Against Adrian (7-11-1, 5-10-1 MIAA), the Belles (1-17-0, 0-16-0) led at halftime in conference play for the first time this season, as a corner from freshman midfielder Kellen Hinchey found freshman forward Jennifer Buck who scored her second goal of the season.
However early in the second half, the Bulldogs equalized. Freshman goalkeeper Thallia Robles saved a header, but couldn’t stop the rebound from Adrian junior midfielder Emily Thiesen. The Bulldogs dominated the second half, taking 18 shots, but Saint Mary’s brought the game to overtime thanks in part to Robles’ six second-half saves.
In the overtime period, however, it took only three minutes for the Bulldogs to find a breakthrough, as junior forward Kirsten Chambers slid a shot past Robles.
On Monday, the Belles ended their regular season with a 4-0 defeat to Alma. The Scots (9-5-4, 8-4-4) opened the scoring in the sixth minute and added another in the 20th to lead 2-0 at halftime. Alma then put the game away less than five minutes into the second half with a third goal, before adding a fourth in the 78th minute. Freshman forward Bella Wiseman had the chance of the game for the Belles, when her 83rd-minute shot was saved.