Belles Fall to Thunder
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team lost a 3-1 (25-21, 24-26, 25-16, 25-20) conference match at home to in-state rival Trine on Wednesday evening.
The Belles were firing away to open the match as Melanie Kuczek recorded kills on her first four attempts of the night. The Thunder later broke a 14-14 tie with three straight points to overtake the momentum and the lead for good in the first stanza of play. Trine took their largest lead of the set at 21-16, but Saint Mary's did not go down easily. Three points in-a-row by the Belles made it a 21-19 contest. The Thunder lead was too much to overtake, however, as Trine responded with a pair of kills before closing out the set with a block for the 25-21 decision.
The second set had everyone on the edge of their seats. It was not clear which way the set was going to go midway through the second set as the score was tied at 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, 13-13, 14-14, and 15-15. The Thunder broke that last tie with three points, which led to a Saint Mary's timeout. The Belles continued to stay within striking distance as the teams traded points. Kills by Katie Hecklinski and Kati Schneider as well as a solo block by Schneider made it a 20-20 set, and Saint Mary's took the lead at 21-20 on an attack error by the Thunder. Trine re-established the lead with a pair of points, and a point that was initially ruled a kill in favor of the Belles was overturned to an error off the antenna made it 23-21 in favor of Trine. Again, Saint Mary's edged their way back and pulled ahead 24-23 on a block by Clare McMillan and Kuczek. After the twelfth tie of the set, the Belles squared the match at a set apiece with a 26-24 victory in the second set on a pair of Trine errors.
Trine regained the momentum in the match with a four-point run and a five-point run to pull ahead 15-9 in the third set. Saint Mary's got within five points of the Thunder lead at 15-10 and 18-13, but the deficit was too much to overcome as Trine went on to take the 25-16 victory and go ahead two sets to one.
The fourth set was similar to the first set as neither team had more than a three-point lead until late. The Belles were able to come out and take an early lead while capitalizing on Trine miscues. Saint Mary's did not give up their lead until the Thunder put together five straight points to gain the 17-14 advantage. A block by Lexi Grady and Leah Buck got the Belles within a point of the lead at 20-19, but a three point spurt by the Thunder was the difference-maker late as Trine held on for a 25-20 win and the four-set match decision.
Kati Schneider and Katie Hecklinski led all players with 14 kills. Schneider also led the Belles with 19 digs while Hecklinski added 17. Melanie Kuczek led all players with five blocks.
The Belles (3-5, 2-2 MIAA) have almost an entire week off from competition and return to action when they host top-ranked Calvin on Tuesday, September 16 at 7:00 p.m.