Belles reflect on disappointing season, focus on future
Erin Drumm | Friday, May 13, 2022
COVID-19 prevented Saint Mary’s volleyball from competing in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. However, the Belles finally returned to the court with enthusiasm this past fall. Head coach Denise Van De Walle spoke about the team’s return to the court.
“We certainly did miss that year off because it really wasn’t just a year, it was like three semesters. So it was a really long time to not be training and definitely not competing. It was so fun to be back in the gym with the team,” she said.
The Belles ended the season with a 7-15 record as a result of multiple injuries and setbacks. They fell 3-1 to Albion in the first round of the MIAA Tournament.
“This past season was a little bit of a disappointment because we had so many injuries. We had several players out for a big portion of the season. That affected and impacted our performance because these were players that were starters and players that we had been relying on in the past,” Van De Walle said. “It was disappointing that we didn’t really get to play at our full potential because a couple of them didn’t come back until the very end of the season.”
Despite the struggles the team faced in the fall, they had some stand-out moments this season. Belles sophomore outside hitter Colleen McCarthy earned Second Team All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) honors for her performance in the 2021 season. Van De Walle pointed to McCarthy’s MIAA honors as a highlight of the season.
“I was really, really excited that [Colleen] was recognized for her performance and made Second Team All-Conference in the MIAA. It’s extremely difficult to make an all-conference team because Calvin and Hope take so many of those places. And so I was really happy for her.”
The Belles are saying goodbye to three graduating seniors this year: setter Claire Hennessy, outside hitter Hannah Stacy, and middle hitter Allison Thornton.
[Editor’s Note: Allison Thornton is a former photo editor for The Observer.]
“It’s tough saying goodbye. It’s going to be really hard to replace them,” Van De Walle said.
The Belles are looking forward to the upcoming fall season and have been continuing to train this spring to meet their goals for the 2022 season.
“Right now the whole focus is the fall. I’m looking forward to making the conference tournament again and having a better finish than sixth. That’s our goal. We need to improve off that finish but definitely make the conference tournament.”
Van De Walle is excited to see what the upcoming season has in store for the Belles.
“When I look ahead to 2022, I’m very optimistic. We had a very good spring season, and our recruiting class looks good so far. So, the team is bought in. They’re ready to go for fall and it should be a really good year.”