Belles prepare for senior night, final home game against Thunder
Mannion McGinley | Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Saint Mary’s volleyball team will take on Trine at home. This will be the Belles’ final home game of the season. For seniors Allison Thornton, Claire Hennessey and Hannah Stacy, (a middle hitter, setter and outside hitter respectively) this will be their last regular-season home game ever.
Head coach Denise Van de Walle could not believe that the end of the season and the end of the girls’ tenures had crept up on the team.
“Very excited about senior night,” Van de Walle said. “The fact that this is the last home match of the year doesn’t seem possible.”
Throughout the year, and their collegiate careers in general, Van de Walle has been able to rely on all three of her senior players.
“All three of them start and generally play all the time,” Van de Walle said, “Claire has been setting this fall, Alli has been in the middle position and Hannah has been on the right. All three have been contributing since day one and it’s been great to have them on the team. All three have brought senior leadership to the team.”
Thornton has played in 42 matches for 118 sets. In those sets, she’s had 80 kills averaging 0.68 kills per set. This season, however, Thornton has seen that number jump to 0.75.
Hennessey has played in 69 matches over her four years and takes on the role of captain this season. She has taken to the court in every game possible over her four years thus far. In 226 sets, she served 47 aces, completed 46 kills and 769 assists.
Stacy took to the court in 65 matches, 169 sets. With 239 kills, she averaged 1.41 kills per set thus far in her career.
Stacy recalled her four seasons and everything the team has been through to get where they are now.
“It’s definitely full of highs and lows,” she said “But it has been an overall great experience and I have met some of my closest friends through volleyball. The best memories were going to Emory over fall break in 2019 and going to the Atlanta aquarium.”
In the good and the bad, Stacy felt they all came into their own and because they’re all so close, she was able to grow.
“I think I have grown as a leader,” Stacy said. “Especially this year as a senior. We have faced a lot of setbacks, like our 2020 season being canceled due to COVID, but we got through it together and made us a closer-knit team.”
Stacy has a specific goal for the game tomorrow, especially, as Van de Walle mentioned, the season hasn’t been everything the team hoped for. They head into their final home game 7-12.
“The season hasn’t gone like we thought it would because of injuries. That was a big factor throughout the fall. Plus, not having our players in-season last year hurt us. We are behind the rest of the teams in the league for that very reason.”
Rather than the MIAA conference dictating the Belles would not play sports last fall due to COVID-19, Saint Mary’s made its own decision not to play. Those factors combined with injuries left the Belles a bit behind the eight-ball. Because of that, Stacy wants to make a statement in her final showing.
“We want to come out with a win and secure a spot in the conference tournament. And I want to enjoy the last time playing on our home court with Alli & Claire,” Stacy said. “We are all so supportive of each other and really rely on one another to keep our chins up and keep each other motivated. We are super close and that’s what makes it so fun playing with each other.”
The two teams have seen each other once already this season, which lit a fire under the Belles.
“We look forward to a rematch with Trine,” Van de Walle said. “They won the first one back in September, we want this one.”
Having seen the Thunder before though, Van de Walle and the Belles know what to expect.
“I expect the Trine team to be very competitive,” Van de Walle said, “I think they have a dynamic setter in [Jacqueline] Baughman who does a really good job for them. She’s been setting for a long time and can be hard to read. They also have strong pin hitters, especially [Olivia] Jolliffe. When we played them the first time we weren’t at full strength. This time we should be. It will be a good match.”
Catch the game at 7:00 pm, live on the Saint Mary’s Belles Youtube channel.