Belles Outlast Thunder in Five Sets
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team found a way to grind out a 3-2 (25-23, 15-25, 25-19, 16-25, 15-7) conference win over in-state rival Trine on Friday night.
In each of the three sets won by the Belles, Saint Mary's had a big moment that put the momentum and ultimately the decision squarely in the Belles' possession. Kati Schneider had a kill to set the score at 18-12 with the Belles trailing in the opening set. The sophomore then stepped to the back line to help Saint Mary's turn that one kill into a 10-point run. During that run, Schneider had back-to-back aces to break an 18-18 tie and give the Belles their first lead of the set. Katie Hecklinski had three kills during that same run as the Belles did not trail again in the opening set.
Leading 16-15 in the third set, the Belles saw their lead increase thanks to a service error, another ace by Schneider, and back-to-back attack errors by the Thunder. Trine looked to get some momentum back after an attack error by the Belles, but Emily Getz put that thought to rest with a huge kill to put Saint Mary's up 21-16. Hecklinski followed suit with a kill of her own, and Taylor Etzell added a kill two points later to put the set out of reach for Trine.
After three early ties in the deciding fifth set, Melanie Kuczek provided the firepower at the key time for the Belles. Following a kill by Danie Brink which gave Saint Mary's a 7-5 advantage, Kuczek came up with a fingertip kill to give the Belles an 8-5 lead on the switch. The very next play, Kuczek put any thoughts of a comeback for Trine to bed with a big solo block in the middle. The Belles hammered away in the deciding set on their way to a 15-7 win to claim the victory.
Katie Hecklinski had a match-high 13 kills, Kati Schneider added 12, and Melanie Kuczek was right in-step with 11 of her own. Schneider added four aces and four block assists, and Kuczek had a solo block, three block assists, and a pair of aces while hitting .296 on the night. Danie Brink added 30 assists while Meredith Mersits had a match-high 16 digs for the Belles.
Saint Mary's (9-8, 5-4 MIAA) will have a pair of non-conference matches tomorrow as they travel to Manchester University to take on the host Spartans as well as Franklin College.