Belles Bitten by Bulldogs
ADRIAN, Mich. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team lost in five sets (14-25, 11-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-11) at Adrian in conference action on Tuesday evening.
The Belles jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first set with two kills each by both Melanie Kuczek and Kati Schneider. The Bulldogs responded with a four-point run to snag an 8-7 lead moments later. Saint Mary's a four-point spurt to take the lead back and added a five-point run to establish a 17-10 advantage. The Belles held at least a six-point edge over the remainder of the set on their way to the 25-14 win in the opener.
Saint Mary's was more than difficult to stop in the second set as the Belles posted a .444 hitting percentage with 13 kills and only one error on 27 attempts. Saint Mary's broke a 6-6 tie with four straight points before adding another four-point spurt to lead 14-7. After the teams traded the next three points, the Belles pulled away with eight consecutive points for a 23-9 advantage. Saint Mary's closed out the set with back-to-back kills to lead 2-0 after two sets.
Once again, the Belles took an early lead in the third set by holding a 6-1 edge. The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead and took advantage of some Saint Mary's miscues to knot the score at 8-8. After the seventh tie of the set at 16-16, Adrian took the next four points to lead 20-16. With the Bulldogs up 21-17, the Belles won five of the next six points to force yet another tie at 22-22. Adrian used a service error by Saint Mary's and a service ace of their own to regain the lead and take the two-point cushion needed for the eventual 25-23 win.
Saint Mary's held the biggest lead at any point of the fourth set when they were up 3-0 and 21-18 as the score was tied on 12 occasions in the fourth. With the Belles up 22-19, the Bulldogs pulled away the momentum by winning the next four points to go up 23-22. A kill by Melanie Kuczek knotted the set at 23-23, but a kill by the Bulldogs and a Saint Mary's attack error provided the difference for Adrian to square the match at two sets apiece.
The Belles claimed the first two points of the decisive fifth set, but the Bulldogs managed to go on four three-point runs separated by no more than two points by the Belles at a time to establish a 13-7 lead. Saint Mary's did not go quietly as the Belles took four of the next five points, but the deficit proved to be too much to overcome as Adrian clinched the win 15-11.
Katie Hecklinski had 17 kills and 23 digs, and Kati Schneider collected 17 kills and 18 digs to help lead the Belles. Melanie Kuczek added 14 kills and four blocks. Meredith Mersits had a match-high 25 digs, and Samantha Grady chipped in 11 digs of her own. Clare McMillan tallied 56 assists.
The Belles (5-10, 3-5 MIAA) look to get back on track and avenge a loss from earlier in the season as they host Kalamazoo on Friday for a conference match beginning at 7:00 p.m.