2013 Season in Review
From the start of the season, the goal for the Saint Mary’s volleyball team was straightforward - to be one of the four teams in the MIAA still playing on 11/8. With yet another season of marked improvement in several statistical categories and the most conference wins since 2008, the Belles achieved that goal of making the top-four only MIAA Tournament in November.
The team opened up the season in the highly-competitive Ohio Northern Invitational. Three of the four teams the Belles faced - Ohio Northern, Heidelberg, and DePauw - combined for a 63-31 record in 2013. DePauw, who accounted for 26 of those wins, ended the season ranked #25 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). In that same tournament, the Belles lost each set to Heidelberg by less than four points. That turned into a theme of closely-played sets throughout the year as Saint Mary’s had 35 of the 103 (33.9 percent) of their sets decided by either two or three points.
The home opener against Albion kick-started a four match winning streak for the Belles as the team defeated the Brits, Alma, and Olivet before winning in five sets against Lakeland.
When the Belles hit their second round of MIAA matches, the team avenged losses from the first round against Kalamazoo and Adrian to go 5-3 over the final eight conference contests and finish in a tie for third place in the conference. The tournament-clinching win at home against Adrian was thriller. After the visiting Bulldogs came back to even the match at two sets apiece, the Belles won the fifth set 15-9 in front of their largest home crowd of the season to make it to the conference tournament.
For the second consecutive season, the Belles posted more kills, assists, and digs than the previous year while playing in fewer sets than the 2012 team. The squad also surpassed the 1,200 kill plateau for the first time since the 2008 season.
MIAA Players of the Week and all-conference selections Kati Schneider and Katie Hecklinski and middle hitter Melanie Kuczek provided a big offensive punch for the Belles yet again. That trio each accounted for more than 200 kills for the second consecutive second consecutive season. The last time the Belles had a trio of players surpass 200 kills in back-to-back seasons were the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. Clare McMillan, meanwhile, stormed her way onto the scene with 922 assists in her first year at Saint Mary’s.
Defensively, the Belles continued their upward trend statistically. With more than 1,700 digs in 2013, the team increased their defensive productivity by nearly 150 digs from the 2012 campaign. Meredith Mersits had a breakout season with 436 digs, an increase of more than 140 digs from last year’s total. Hecklinski, Schneider, and Samantha Grady all registered more than 200 digs on the season for the Belles.