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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

SMC Volleyball: Belles outlast MIAA rival in playoff match

Saint Mary's fought back from a 2-0 deficit Tuesday against Alma College and advanced to the MIAA semifinals after a 3-2 win.

Alma took the first two matches and looked as if it had total control in the match, but that was not the case.

The Scots started the third game with a 7-4 lead, but the Belles recovered and grabbed a 10-9 lead. They kept it the rest of the game, winning 30-23, and cut the Scots lead to 2-1.

The Belles jumped out to a 9-6 lead in the fourth game, but the Scots rallied back. Alma maintained control until a surprise rally brought the Belles back to 27-27. The Belles took a time out and went on to win the game 30-28.

The deciding fifth game was a back-and-forth affair. The Scots came out with a 2-0 lead, but the Belles soon took over 4-3. They continued to pour on the pressure and won the game 15-11 - and the match.

"Our sheer stubbornness to not give up, was our strongest part of our play tonight," Belles coach Julie Schroeder-Biek said. "I also really saw my senior's leadership rise to the occasion. [The] desire to win is contagious...they don't want to let each other down."

The Belles ran into the stands to celebrate the win with the crowd after it was over.

In the first game, the Belles pulled ahead with a 17-13 lead. The Scots rallied back and kept the game close until a sudden push won the match 26-30.

The second game was controlled completely by Alma until the 22-30 final.

Senior outside hitter Kristen Playko, freshman outside hitter Lorna Slupczynski and junior setter Amanda David led the Belles.

Playko posted a match high 25 kills, while digging up 18 balls. Slupczynski helped in the effort with 15 kills and a career-best 26 digs, while David contributed a double-double with 68 assists and 11 digs.

"Everyone is doing a great job right now," Playko said. "There is always room for improvement, we need to step it up even more on Friday. We are going into this game as the under dogs, but we know we can compete.

"This tournament is a great challenge for us, nothing is set in stone. It is about drive and desire, and who wants it more. Friday we have an awesome opportunity to show who we are and what we are all about."

Playko was pleased with her team's effort, but knows they have to work things out before Friday's game against top-seed Calvin.

"We need to work on keeping our focus and starting out strong," she said. "It is going to be a good game, but we can't wait until the third game to play. We need to do the work early and get the win. We are all out there wanting the same thing, together we can make it happen."

Coach Schroeder-Biek agreed with the starting senior.

"We need a strong desire to win right from the start," she said. "The competition only gets tougher and we need to respond to that by bringing our best game to the court immediately."

The Belles will play Calvin Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the road.