Belles Fall in Heartbreaker to Hornets

Box Score

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team shouldered a tough loss on the road as they were on the wrong end of a 3-2 (24-26, 10-25, 26-24, 26-24, 19-17) decision against Kalamazoo in both teams' conference opener.

The Belles grabbed the momentum at the end of the first set by rattling off six consecutive points to overcome a 24-20 deficit to win the opener 26-24. Samantha Grady had back-to-back aces and the Hornets had an attack error to account for Saint Mary's final three points of the first set.

Set two was all Saint Mary's from start to finish. The Belles stormed out to win the first eight points of the set and never looked back. Saint Mary's held a 13-2 edge in kills in the second set alone.

In the third set, neither team established more than a three-point lead. The advantage changed hands five times and the score was tied on 10 occasions in the third. The Hornets took five of the final six points to win the third 26-24.

After a tie at 11-11 in the fourth set, the Hornets gained much of the momentum by going up 19-14. The Belles continued to battle their way back into the set by edging within a point of the lead at 22-21, 23-22, and 24-23 before tying the set at 24-24. But Kalamazoo put down back-to-back kills to force a decisive fifth set.

The host Hornets took a five-point lead at 10-5, but Saint Mary's again battled their way back into the set. The Belles won three-straight points to tie the set at 12-12 before taking their first lead of the set at 13-12 on a kill by Kati Schneider. The Belles were down set-point four times in the fifth before coming back five times with kills by Schneider, Melanie Kuczek, and Brooke Fowler. After Fowler's kill knotted the set at 17-17, the Hornets were able to put down consecutive kills to take the set and the match with a 19-17 score in the fifth.

Clare McMillan had 53 assists, Kati Schneider added a double-double with 21 kills and 15 digs, and Meredith Mersits chipped in 23 digs to lead the Belles. Melanie Kuczek notched 15 kills, and Katie Hecklinski tallied a double-double of her own with 14 kills and 20 digs. Samantha Grady added a double-digit dig effort with 15 to go along with four aces.

The Belles (1-4, 0-1 MIAA) host conference foe Albion in their home opener on Friday starting at 7:00 p.m.