- The Belles opened the season with a three-set sweep of Manchester
- The .314 hitting percentage was the highest for the Belles since the 2012 season
- Katie Hecklinski (11 kills, nine digs), Meaghan Gibbons (10 kills) helped lead the team
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team took little time to take care of business in a 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-14) win over visiting Manchester in both teams' season-opening match.
A solid team effort overall led the Belles
to a 3-0 win against Manchester.
The Belles stormed out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first set and never trailed. Manchester edged within 5-4 after a four-point spurt, but Saint Mary's distanced themselves from the Spartans by claiming the next five points for a 10-4 advantage. The Belles held at least a six-point cushion throughout the first set en route to the 25-14 win.
The second set saw seven ties and five lead changes between the teams as both sides battled to gain a strong edge early. A kill and a block by the Spartans put Manchester ahead 14-12, leading to a timeout by the Belles. After the break, Saint Mary's swayed the momentum back in their favor with a decisive six-point run to put the Belles up 18-14. The sides traded points back-and-forth late in the match, but Saint Mary's held off Manchester for the 25-18 second set victory.
The third stanza saw the Belles claim another 10-4 lead, but the Spartans would not go down easily as Manchester cut the deficit to just two points at 10-8. Once again, Saint Mary's turned the tables on the Spartans with a four-point run of their own to regain a 12-8 advantage. The Belles continued to come up with a response each time Manchester claimed a point to prevent the Spartans from making a run as Saint Mary's closed out the win with a 25-14 win in the set.
The Belles posted identical .444 attack percentages in both the first and third sets with 14 kills on 27 attempts and two errors in both frames. Overall Saint Mary's hit a highly effective .314, marking the team's highest hitting percentage since a three set win over Albion on October 19, 2012.
Katie Hecklinski led all players with 11 kills while adding nine digs for the Belles. Meaghan Gibbons tallied 10 kills of her own and had a match-high four aces. Clare McMillan notched 16 assists, and Alexis Grady posted 14 assists and seven kills on the night.
For head coach Denise Van De Walle, it was her first coaching win at the Division III level after spending 29 years as the head coach at NCAA Division I Bowling Green.
The Belles (1-0) travel to Elmhurst College this weekend for a two-day tournament. Saint Mary's opens up play on Friday at 3:00 p.m. CDT against North Park.