Belles Win Four-Set Thriller Over Comets
OLIVET, Mich. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team came from behind for a 3-1, (24-26, 27-25, 25-20, 31-29) over MIAA foe Olivet on Wednesday evening.
Both teams battled for the lead throughout much of the first set. After ties at 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, and 23, the Belles looked poised to take the opening set after going up 24-23 on a kill by Kati Schneider. The Comets responded with a three-point run to overtake the lead and win the opener 26-24.
Olivet rode the momentum from winning the first set by establishing a sizable lead after a six-point run. The Comets led by as many as eight points with a 17-9 advantage. That was when the Belles went on a tear to get back into the set. Saint Mary's won eight of the next nine points to tie the set at 18-18. The teams went back-and-forth until the Comets were up set-point at 24-22. Another quick spurt of points by the Belles, which included kills by Melanie Kuczek and Schneider, put the Belles up 26-25. With an attack error by the Comets, the second-set comeback was complete as the teams were all square at a set apiece.
The momentum shifted squarely to the Belles at the end of the second and carried over to the third as Saint Mary's led from start to finish with a 25-20 victory. Kuczek hit a blistering .700 (7 kills, 0 errors, 10 attempts) in the third set while Schneider chipped in five kills with a .500 attack percentage.
The fourth set was a nailbiter for both sides as neither team was able to grab more than a three-point lead. The Belles broke a 23-23 tie with a kill by Schneider to go up match point, but Olivet responded with back-to-back points to take the lead. It was Saint Mary's turn to win consecutive points and push the match to the verge with an Olivet service error and another Schneider kill. Olivet tied the score at 26-26, but the Belles came back with another kill to go up match point for the third time.
The Comets turned the tables with two consecutive points for set point at 28-27, but Schneider notched her 31st kill of the contest to knot the set at 28-28. Saint Mary's went up match point yet again on an attack error by the Comets, but Olivet came back with another kill for the 29-29 tie. The Belles' stingy defense saw the Comets hitters have a pair of miscues to lift Saint Mary's to the 31-29 win to clinch the 3-1 victory.
Kati Schneider hit .453 and tied an MIAA single-match record with 31 kills while Clare McMillan set a new MIAA four-set record with 57 assists to lead the Belles. Melanie Kuczek hit .457 with 18 kills, and Meredith Mersits led all players 20 digs. Schneider had her fourth-consecutive double-double with 13 digs. Katie Hecklinski added 16 digs, and Samantha Grady chipped in 12 digs for the Belles.
Saint Mary's (4-4, 3-1 MIAA) will have a break from conference play as they travel to Wheaton (Ill.) for matches against the host Thunder and Lakeland on Saturday, September 14.