Saint Mary’s volleyball wins one, drops two in weekend tournament
Patrick Anders | Tuesday, September 12, 2023
The Saint Mary’s volleyball team traveled to Wooster, Ohio, this past weekend for the third annual MIAA-NCAC crossover tournament. The Belles, who finished tied for seventh in the nine-team conference last year, joined Olivet and Alma to face Oberlin, Wooster and Kenyon, who all finished in similar spots at the conclusion of last season. The crossover was the Belles second straight weekend in Ohio, having gone 2-2 the weekend before at the Cedar Point Invite.
Saint Mary’s first matched up against the Oberlin Yeowomen. The Belles got off to a 5-3 lead, which then grew to 16-8, before winning the first set 25-22. The next three sets, however, did not go the Belles way, as Oberlin proceeded to win 25-10, 25-15 and 25-15. Head coach Denise Van De Walle said the team’s passing was rough in the match, which hampered their ability to make strong attacks and run their offense the way that they wanted to in order to win. The match started late, meaning the Belles had little time to rest before their next match against Wooster.
In their match against the hosting Wooster Fighting Scots, the Belles fell behind early, dropping the first set 25-7. However, they bounced back and won the second set 25-21 after key final kills by sophomore Grace Braselton and freshman Caroline Carens. The third set saw several lead changes early. With the score tied at 15-15, the Belles went on a 9-1 run en route to a 25-17 set win. The fourth set was tight as well, with back-to-back kills by junior Cali Allen and Scots errors keeping the Belles in it at 21-22, but Wooster won the next three points to force a decisive fifth set. The Belles swung the momentum early, building an 8-6 lead on the side switch and staying ahead at 13-12. But the back-and-forth nature of the match continued until the Scots won the set, and the match, 16-14. Though the Belles came up short, individual play was improved from the first match against Oberlin.
Saturday, the Belles faced the Kenyon Owls for their final match of the tournament. The Belles played strong and steady throughout the match, sweeping the Owls with set scores of 25-19, 25-21 and 25-20. Junior Bethany DiSilvestro was vital in the team’s victory, leading the match with 17 digs. Van De Walle praised the team for a high hitting efficiency, notching a rate of .163.
“This third and final match really showcased what we can do when we are all on the same page mentally,” Van De Walle said after the match. “We fought for this one, and all six players on the court at each moment fought well and swung smart. The pin hitters especially hit down the line very well.”
Ending the tournament on a win brought the Belles record to 3-4 on the season and gave the Belles positive momentum heading into the rest of the season. Saint Mary’s hosts its first home match of the season against the Manchester Spartans on September 19.