Saint Mary's vs. Alma - MIAA Tournament

Dramatic Comeback Lifts Saint Mary's Past Alma, 3-2

Fourth-seeded Saint Mary’s rallied from an 0-2 deficit to knock off fifth-seed Alma 3-2 (26-30, 22-30, 30-23, 30-28, 15-11) Tuesday evening in the first round of the MIAA tournament at the Angela Athletic Center.

The win lifts the Belles record to 17-9 and they will play at top-seeded Calvin on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. Alma’s season ends with a 16-14 mark. In addition, it marks the first time since the 1999 conference tournament that Saint Mary’s advances past the first round while Alma bows out of the first round for the inaugural time in eight year history of the tournament.

In the opening game that went back-and-forth until, with the score knotted at 20-20, Alma slowly pulled away to earn the first game win. In the second game the Scots leaped ahead to an 11-5 edge and never let Saint Mary’s get closer than two points the rest of the game in taking a decisive lead the match.

Saint Mary’s began their comeback with a game three win. After trailing 7-9 early in the game, the Belles rallied to take the lead at 12-11 and never trailed the rest of the game in forcing a fourth game.

Alma seemingly had control of the game and looked to close the match out in four.
The Scots held an 18-11 advantage but slowly the fourth seeded Belles chipped away. Facing a five point deficit and just three points from defeat, at 22-27, Saint Mary’s rattled off eight of the next nine points in the game to force a fifth game.

With Alma leading 7-5 in the fifth game, the Belles got three kills from Kaela Hellman and one from Kristen Playko in taking a 9-7 advantage during the next four points. After a Besty Bulthuis kill made the score 9-8, Saint Mary’s went on a 5-2 scoring run to earn their first match point. A Lorna Slupczynski attacked error kept the Scots in the game at 14-11 but a Rebecca Bruning service error ended the high tension affair on the next point.

Leading the effort for the Belles was Playko who posted a match high 25 kills while digging up 18 balls. Slupczynski chipped in 15 kills and a career best 26 digs. Amanda David also contributed a double-double with 68 assists and 11 digs. Anne Cusack added 36 digs from the libero position.

Alma got a team high 22 kills from Kim Gillhespy, who also posted a .571 hitting percentage. Kaylee Sova pitched in 16 kills while Bulthuis record 11 kills. Mary Murdoch dished out 49 assists to go along with her team best 25 digs.