Gritty Comeback Stopped Short for Belles Against Scots
- Alexis Grady registered her second triple-double (32 assists, 13 kills, 15 digs) of the year.
- Katie Hecklinski led all players with 21 kills.
- Leah Buck hit .529 with 11 kills and three solo blocks.
ALMA, Mich. - Trailing 2-0, the Saint Mary's volleyball team staged one of their biggest comebacks of the season only to fall in five sets at Alma by 25-23, 33-31, 23-25, 19-25, 17-15 scores.
In a match where only one set was decided by more than the minimum of two points, the Belles and the Scots were tied on 50 occasions while the lead changed hands 26 different times in the high-tension contest.
Saint Mary's benefited from a service ace late in the first set to go ahead 23-22 in a set where neither team led by more than three points at any instance. The Scots, however, responded with back to back kills to close out the 25-23 first set final.
The second set saw the Belles pull ahead early with a five-point run for a 7-2 advantage. Saint Mary's continued to keep Alma at bay until the Scots drew even at 16-16. Alma later went up 24-22 after a kill and an attack error by the Belles, but the set was far from being decided. Leah Buck kept Saint Mary's alive with a solo block, and Colleen Kilgallon gave the Belles their first set-point advantage with a kill. This time, the Scots had the answer with a kill to tie the match at 25-25. Over the next 11 points, the Belles had three set points while the Scots pulled within a point of the set three times. A late service error by Alma put Saint Mary's ahead 30-29, but the Scots were able to put down kills on four of the next five points to claim the 33-31 set.
Rather than showing signs of defeat after a heartbreaking second set, the Belles responded by jumping out to a 10-5 lead in the third set. Alma knotted the score at 15-15 before edging ahead 20-17, but the Belles came up with the response to tie the set at 20-20 with kills by Buck, Alexis Grady, and Katie Hecklinski. The Scots put down a block to break a 22-22 tie for the 23-22 lead, but Saint Mary's was too determined to keep the match alive and took the final three points of the set to win 25-23.
That shift in momentum by claiming the third set win carried over into the fourth set for the Belles. Saint Mary's again established an early 14-10 lead and continued to hold the advantage until the Scots drew even at 16-16. Alma took their first lead since early in the set at 19-18 a few points later. The Belles still had the comeback on their minds and stormed through the final seven points of the set with four kills, a block, and two attack errors by the Scots to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
In the fifth set, the Belles came back from an early deficit to take an 8-7 lead as the teams switched sides of the court. After Alma tied the score at 8-8, the Belles went up 11-8 and forced the Scots into calling their second timeout of the set. With both teams hungry for the win, few points came easily down the stretch. A 13-10 Saint Mary's lead was erased by a four-point spurt by the Scots as Alma went up 14-13. Katie Hecklinski put down a kill to keep the match alive, and two points later, the senior sent down another kill to stave off another set-point chance for Alma to tie the set at 15-15. The Scots, however, were able to put together consecutive kills to claim the 17-15 decision.
Alexis Grady joined just 19 other players in NCAA Division III volleyball with multiple triple-doubles on the year after picking up 32 assists, 13 kills, and 15 digs. Katie Hecklinski led all players with 21 kills and added 16 digs. McKenzie Todd matched her career-high with 26 digs on the night. Clare McMillan recorded a double-double with 29 assists and 12 digs for the Belles. Colleen Kilgallon tallied 14 kills. Leah Buck, meanwhile, posted a .529 attack percentage with 11 kills while leading the team with three solo blocks.
The Belles (11-8, 4-4 MIAA) kick off the second round of MIAA competition on Friday when they travel to No. 5 ranked Calvin for a 7:00 p.m. match against the Knights.