Belles fall in season finale
Andrew McGuinness | Thursday, November 9, 2023
The 2023 season officially came to an end for the Saint Mary’s volleyball team over the weekend. The Belles returned to the road where they were swept by Albion in three sets.
The Britons controlled the match from the beginning and rarely let up. Albion jumped out to an early 9-2 lead in the opening set, never letting the Belles creep within even a half-dozen points as the set progressed, winning by a 25-9 final score. Saint Mary’s responded by gaining a 5-2 edge early in the second set. However, a pair of 4-0 runs swung the set in Albion’s favor for good. The Britons rattled off another 4-point run to begin the third set after Belles junior middle hitter Shay Theile notched a first-point kill. Albion rattled off two more similar stretches, including taking the final 5 points to close the third set, 25-13.
With the defeat, Saint Mary’s finished the 2023 season with a record of 6-14, going 1-7 in conference play. The deck was stacked a bit against the Belles, though, as just six of their 20 matches this season were at home. The Belles had a very similar performance in 2022, going 5-19 and an identical 1-7 in conference action a year ago.
The Belles began the season on a solid note, winning two of their first three matches and taking seven of their first 10 sets. However, the Belles lost their next three, and after another 2-1 stretch, they dropped another five in a row and seven of eight. Saint Mary’s ended the season with two consecutive losses after pulling out a win on Senior Night.
Saint Mary’s does figure to return most of its talent next season, as the Belles have just one senior in setter Karla Rigan, who did not play a major role in 2023. Junior outside hitter Cali Allen led the team with 190 kills. Junior setter Shani Russell piled up 555 assists, 460 more than any of her teammates. Allen also paced the team in digs, averaging just over three per set, while freshman middle hitter Caroline Carens notched a Belles-high 53 total blocks.