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Belles stifled by Thunder in conference loss

In three sets of action Saturday evening, the Saint Mary Belles’ volleyball squad led just once against the Trine Thunder, falling 3-0 in their 12th straight defeat. The final score was 17-25, 23-25, 17-25. The Belles kept things close throughout and recorded some hot stretches to challenge the Thunder. But outside of a 1-0 lead in the third set, they never surpassed the hosts on the scoreboard during the contest. Junior outside hitter Colleen McCarthy and freshman rightside hitter Mia Shields led the Belles with 13 kills apiece.

In the first set, the name of the game was unforced errors. The Belles matched the Thunder with 11 kills apiece. However, they also recorded 10 attacking errors. Their hitting percentage sat at .023 through one set, and their offensive inconsistency allowed Trine to seize control. The Belles battled back from an early 9-3 deficit with six straight points, spearheaded by a pair of McCarthy kills.

However, Trine quickly notched the next four points and 10 of the next 13 to take a commanding 19-12 advantage. Saint Mary’s didn’t get closer than 22-17, and Trine scored the final three points to claim the first set.

The second set was a more even affair as the Belles tied the score on six occasions after the set began. Then, with the score knotted up at 12 points apiece, Trine drilled home a pair of kills, taking a two-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish. After trading points for a bit, the Thunder gradually stretched their advantage to a set-high four points at 21-17.

The Belles fought back, however, to push Trine to the limit. Down 24-21, Saint Mary’s notched a couple of points to get back within one. Freshman outside hitter Delaney Martin hammered a kill to make it 24-23. However, Trine replied with a clean win on their third set point opportunity to take the 2-0 advantage.

The third set started to get out of control pretty quickly for the Belles. After taking their first lead of the game via a Trine attacking error, the Belles surrendered a 5-0 run. Trine ultimately blitzed the visitors for an 8-1 lead, forcing a Belles’ timeout with the score sitting at 8-2.

Saint Mary’s looked far more composed after that timeout, as four different Belles garnered kills in a four-point spurt, eventually closing the gap to 13-12. But they would get no closer. Trine claimed six of the next eight points to essentially ice the result, going up 19-13. The Belles never got closer than five points again, and Trine clinched the game with a service ace for the 25-17 three-set victory.

The loss marks Saint Mary’s 12th-straight, including an 0-4 start to MIAA play. On Sept. 20, they led Kalamazoo 2-1, and since then, the Belles have lost 17 straight sets. They have a prime chance to break their streak Wednesday, when they pay a visit to Alma College, the other winless team in the conference. Alma is 0-5 in MIAA play and their 2-14 record is a game worse than the Belles’ 3-13 mark. That game starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday before Saint Mary’s returns home for two games.

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Sports

Belles volleyball drops three matches in weekend series

The 3-2 Saint Mary’s College volleyball team headed into Angola, Indiana, Friday to compete in the MIAA/NCAC Crossover Tournament at Trine University’s MTI Center. The Belles could not have gotten the results they hoped for this weekend, dropping all three matches against DePauw University, The College of Wooster and Hiram College.

On the tournament’s first day, Saint Mary’s was tripped up against DePauw in a 3-1 contest. The Belles broke away from the Tigers in the first set by aid of kills via junior Colleen McCarthy and aces off the hand of freshman Delaney Martin. Kills by freshman Grace Braselton and freshman Mia Shields helped the Belles build an 18-14 advantage into a 23-17 lead. Despite a 5-0 run by the Tigers late in the opening set, Shields secured the game point with an ace at a score of 25-22.

Both sides battling for momentum, the second set saw nine ties through the first 24 points. More kills from McCarthy and Martin plus another much-needed ace from Shields were not enough to prevent DePauw from closing out the second set as victors in a 25-16 win. Saint Mary’s fell behind five points early in the third set but were able to draw even at 20-20 thanks to a timely McCarthy kill. After this, DePauw stormed back with three points in a row. The Tigers ended up finishing out the third set winning handily 25-21. Though the Belles showed resiliency in the fourth set, DePauw closed out a match victory with a 25-20 advantage in the final set of play.

The Friday night stand out was McCarthy who, picking up her fifth double-double of the year, racked up 18 kills and tallied 15 digs. Shields registered a team leading 17 digs, and Martin ended the night with five service aces.

Saint Mary’s was back in action Saturday in a match up against The College of Wooster Fighting Scots. The Belles dropped a tough opening 25-15 but made an impressive showing in the second set after trailing 7-1 early. A couple late kills and a service ace by Shields helped lead the Belles to a 27-25 win-by-two victory over the Fighting Scots in the second set. Wooster limited the Saint Mary’s to only 11 points in the third set. In the fourth and final set, an 8-1 run by the Fighting Scots solidified Wooster’s match defeat of Saint Mary’s.

Shields finished the match with 11 kills, sophomore Cali Allen added a team leading 11 digs and freshman Remington Vincent accumulated 20 assists for the Belles.

In their second match of the day, their third and final match of the MIAA/NCAC Tournament, the Saint Mary’s Belles took on the Hiram College Terriers. After falling in the first set 25-14, the Belles responded by taking the second set in a narrow 25-22 victory. Braselton closed out this one happy set with a solo block. Despite matching the Terriers at scores of 8-8 and 16-16, the Belles lost the third set thanks to a late three-point spurt by Hiram. Fighting to the bitter end, Saint Mary’s dropped the fourth set of the match by four points to cap off their weekend slew of losses.

Against Hiram, McCarthy earned a team-best 20 digs and led all players with 19 kills. Allen even registered a double-double of her own with 16 kills and 17 digs.

The now 3-5 Belles are back in action Friday, traveling to Manchester to face IU-Northwest and Franklin at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively.

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu.