2014 Season in Review
For the first time since the 2008 season, the Saint Mary’s volleyball team posted 15 wins in a year as the Belles went 15-13 in 2014 with an 8-8 mark in conference matches to hold a share of fourth place in the final MIAA standings.
The Belles opened the season at the highly-competitive Mount Union Classic over Labor Day weekend. In the first day of play, Saint Mary’s played point-for-point with tenth-ranked Mount Union before falling in straight sets. That effort would be indicative of the determination that the Belles would go on to show throughout the entire season with a schedule which featured nationally-ranked and regionally-ranked foes.
The team opened a five-match home stand in September with a pair of conference wins against Olivet and Albion while wrapping up that stint with a four-set victory over Kalamazoo. The win against the Hornets propelled the team into a four-match winning streak which included a pair of five-set decisions.
Three matches later, the Belles kicked off a three-week stretch with only road competitions while starting the second round of conference play. Saint Mary’s rattled off five consecutive wins for the longest winning streak for the program in well over a decade. In the midst of that streak, the Belles faced off for the second time this fall against a Bethany squad which would go on to win nearly 30 matches in 2014. In the second meeting, the Belles were not to be denied as Saint Mary’s claimed a four-set victory over the Bison to avenge a four-set loss to the same squad in the season opener at Mount Union.
The final week of the season saw the team return home for a pair of matches. Saint Mary’s edged out a 3-2 win over Adrian early in the week before hanging right with second-ranked Hope in the season finale before falling in straight sets.
The team posted their first 15-win season since the fall of 2008. Over the year, the Belles were 5-1 in five-set matches. Both marks are the best in a season since Toni Elyea took over the reins of the program in the spring of 2009.
The 2014 season also saw a handful of individual players achieve numerous career milestones and earn several accolades. In the opening tournament, Kati Schneider became the sixth player in program history to amass 1,000 career kills. On day two of the same tournament, Clare McMillan recorded her 1,000th career assist in just the 30th match of her career.
Later in the year, she put herself in even more exclusive company as she picked up her 1,000th dig to become the fifth Saint Mary’s player with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. Midway through October, Katie Hecklinski reached 1,000 digs and Melanie Kuczek put down her 200th block with the Belles to join Schneider and McMillan with big personal milestones.
Kuczek also picked up the first MIAA Player of the Week honor of her career in late September. When the season concluded, Schneider was named to the All-MIAA Second Team to become just the second player in program history to earn either First Team or Second Team distinction in three different seasons for the Belles. She was also tabbed as an all-tournament selection in both tournaments the Belles competed in during the season.