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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 laguzzi@nd.edu.