Belles Grounded by Thunder
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team lost a tough five-set match to in-state conference rival Trine on Tuesday evening by 20-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 21-19 scores.
The Belles appeared to be on their way to the win after the first two sets. Saint Mary's used a three-point push late in the first set to turn a 20-19 affair into a 23-19 advantage. Taylor Etzell silenced any thoughts of a Thunder comeback in the opening frame with a big solo block to push the Belles to set-point. A Trine hitting error then gave the Belles the first set, 25-20.
Riding the momentum from the first-set, the Saint Mary's offense was tough for Trine to slow down in the second set. The Belles hit .242 in the set compared to the Thunder's .029 hitting percentage. Kati Schneider accounted for five kills on just seven attempts (.7.14) while fellow outside attacker Katie Hecklinski put down five kills of her own. A block by Taylor Etzell and Brooke Fowler gave Saint Mary's a 14-12 lead, and the Belles held at least a two-point advantage throughout the rest of the set for the 25-19 win.
It was then Trine's turn to have an offense that proved to be tough to stop as the Thunder mounted a quick 7-2 lead with five kills and a pair of Saint Mary's errors. Trine continued to pressure the Belles' offense as Saint Mary's hit .067 in the set. Leading by as much as 10, the Thunder picked up the third set, 25-18.
Saint Mary's snagged a 5-1 lead to open the fourth set, but Trine tied the game at 8-8 on an attack error by the Belles. The Thunder went on a four-point run to break a 12-12 tie and establish a 16-12 lead. But the Belles came right back with five-straight points to lead 17-16. After a handful of ties and lead changes, the visiting Thunder had a late spurt of points to break a 21-21 tie and lead 24-21 before forcing a decisive fifth set with a 25-22 win.
The fifth set featured 13 ties and eight lead changes. The Belles led 8-5 when the teams switched sides, but that proved to be the largest lead either team established in the fifth set. Saint Mary's fought off match-point at 14-13 and 15-14 before going up match-point 16-15 and 17-16. With the match tied 19-19, the Thunder had back-to-back kills to end the match with a 21-19 decision in the fifth.
Kati Schneider led the Belles with 17 kills while chipping in 17 digs and six aces. Katie Hecklinski had 16 kills and 16 digs. Meredith Mersits led all players with 20 digs. Clare McMillan added 38 assists and 13 digs for her third double-double of the season. Samantha Grady notched 13 digs, and Taylor Etzell had a career-high six blocks.
The Belles (5-6, 3-2 MIAA) travel to second-ranked Hope for a conference match against the Flying Dutch on Friday, September 20 starting at 7:00 p.m.