Belles volleyball falls 3-0 against Hope

Saint Mary’s volleyball lost three sets to none in a conference match-up on the road against No. 14 Hope College. Belles head coach Denise Van De Walle was straight-forward about the outcome of the contest.

“So, tonight was a tough match,” Van De Walle said. “Hope is very physical. They hit the ball well, and they had a good night against us.”

Van De Walle pointed toward the Flying Dutch’s above .300 hitting percentage, the telling statistic as to how the night went for the Belles.

“I mean, as a team, they hit .312 which is really high for a team,” Van De Walle said.

The match’s first set, the closest of the night, saw an 8-1 Belles run early on.

“We started out in set one and we were neck and neck. I mean, it was a great set to about 15 points,” Van De Walle said. “Then they kind of took over, we lost 25-19 and it was a good game.”

The Belles went on to drop the second and third sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-13, as Hope was more physical at the net. After the game, Van De Walle spoke with her players about some of the areas that needed improvement.

“We know that when we come in to practice tomorrow, it’s a new day, and we need to be ready to work on some of the things that are causing us to fall short. We need to be able to kill more
balls, we need to be able to dig more balls and that’s where our focus will be,” Van De Walle said.

She stressed a process of improvement that doesn’t need be tied to the win-loss column.

“But I also have been talking to them a lot about ‘let’s not put the focus on winning. Let’s put the focus on getting better.’ I want each one of our players to get better and then see what the outcome is by the end of the season,” she said.

The 14-member Belles volleyball squad is a young team still looking to get their feet out under them with six new freshmen and a sophomore transfer. The 3-12 Belles have now lost 11 games in a row. Van De Walle acknowledged that it has been a tough stretch for the team.

“But when you’re still eager to get better, it’s easy to come in the gym and that’s what I want them to be, just focusing on getting better. Better first touch, better swing on the ball, better setting, better defense and see what that translates to by the end of the year because we’re halfway there. We’re halfway done,” Van De Walle said.

Next up for the Belles is a road rematch against Trine on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Contact Peter Breen at


Belles volleyball swept by Manchester, lose 9th straight

The Saint Mary’s Belles hosted their fourth home game of the season Wednesday night when they faced the Manchester University Spartans in a losing match. The Belles put up a fight, but the Spartans ultimately defeated them in a three-set sweep.

The first set opened up with an early Manchester lead, with Saint Mary’s trailing behind, occasionally tightening the gap in points. The Spartans took the score from 6-4 to 10-4 with a four-point scoring streak. And while kills from junior outside hitter Colleen McCarthy, freshman right side Mia Shields, and freshman outside hitter Grace Braselton, as well as a few service errors from the Spartans, gave SMC a four-point streak shortly after that, the score remained at 11-9 with the Belles behind.

The set continued on with a number of scoring streaks from Manchester. They even took an 18-11 lead at one point in the set. An outstanding performance from McCarthy, however, brought the Belles a number of points. Four consecutive McCarthy kills brought the score to 21-18. While a catch-up was in sight for the Belles, the team lost the first set, 25-21.

Set two of the night saw Manchester running on a high with their scoring, springing to a 10-2 lead. The Spartans kept up that large lead for the duration of the first half of the set. But once the score reached 19-9, the Belles ramped up their competitiveness. Saint Mary’s went on a 7-0 scoring run, filled by kills from the same trio as the first set: McCarthy, Shields and Braselton. The Belles tightened the score at 19-16. But then they lost possession of the ball. The second set ended in the second SMC loss of the night with a 25-19 score.

SMC took the first point of the third set, setting hopes high, but while they kept the lead at a 2-3 score, they then lost the lead to Manchester, who quickly gained a 9-4 edge. Saint Mary’s had a tough time closing the gap in this set. By the time the score was at 19-7 in the Spartans’ favor, the set seemed like an easy win for Manchester. The Belles, however, made an effort to close that gap with a 9-3 point run, getting them up to 22-16. But the Spartans quickly ended the third and final set with a score of 25-17.

The Belles have faced a tough season this fall with a disappointing 3-9 record. Head coach Denise Van De Walle mentioned in post-match interviews the struggle the team has been facing. The inexperience of the team, which has a large roster of underclassmen and transfers, has been a challenge. But the streak of losses that have kept their morale down since their last win on Sept. 3 against Defiance stings, too.

The Belles host the fourth game in a string of home games this Saturday, Oct. 1 against North Park.

Contact Lucia Aguzzi at