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.
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