Belles Sweep Flying Dutch
- The Belles swept the Flying Dutch for the first time since joining the MIAA.
- Nicole Lukens had a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs.
- Audrey Shannon led all players with 19 digs, and Leah Buck had five blocks.
HOLLAND, Mich. - For the first time since joining the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1997, the Saint Mary's volleyball team swept Hope in a 25-23, 25-17, 25-13 final on Tuesday evening.
Hope, who received votes in the latest AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 poll, jumped out to an early 5-1 lead on their home court. Saint Mary's took advantage of some hitting miscues by the Flying Dutch, and Nicole Lukens and Leah Buck each registered a kill as the Belles drew even at 6-6. The score remained tight before Saint Mary's was able to take a 16-13 lead. Hope capitalized on a bad set by the Belles, but Saint Mary's came right back and took five of the next six points to go ahead 21-16. The Flying Dutch battled back from a 23-19 deficit to knot the score at 23-23. The Belles, however, went up on a service error by Hope and closed out the set with a kill by Rachel Bonek.
The second set saw the Belles turn a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead as Lukens picked up another kill and Bonek and Lukens came up with a block. Hope tied the score at 5-5, but another big run by the Belles saw Saint Mary's go ahead 11-5. During that run, Buck was in on three blocks and Lukens picked up a pair of blocks as the defense set the tone. Hope edged within three points at 14-11, but the Belles continued to find a way and used a 6-0 run to distance themselves from the host Flying Dutch. Leah Buck hammered down kills for the Belles' 24th and 25th points as Saint Mary's claimed the set 25-17.
Saint Mary's all but put away the match early in the third set. With the score tied 2-2, Buck and Lukens each tallied a kill as the Belles took a lead they would never relinquish. A Hope service error a few points later made it an 8-5 lead for the Belles. Audrey Shannon then went back to serve ten times in-a-row and the Belles shifted the momentum for good. During that stretch which saw Saint Mary's build a 17-5 lead, Marielle Corbett tallied two kills, Morgan VanderWey found an opening on the floor for a well-placed kill, and Shannon served up an ace to take over the match. Saint Mary's added another four-point spurt on two more kills by Corbett, a solo block by Corbett, and a Hope error to mount a 21-8 lead. The Belles went up set-point a short while later on double block by Bonek and Buck and closed out the set and the match with a Flying Dutch hitting error for the sweep.
The win against the Flying Dutch is the first since the Belles won a 3-2 nailbiter on September 25, 2004 at Hope. Additionally, it is the first sweep for the Belles over the Flying Dutch since the Belles became members of the MIAA in 1997.
Nicole Lukens posted a double-double with a match high 10 kills to go along with 11 digs. Audrey Shannon's defense was key in the win as the junior led all players with 19 digs. Leah Buck registered a .316 attack percentage with seven kills and just one error on 19 attempts while putting down a match-best five blocks. Marielle Corbett added seven kills and 14 digs. Morgan VanderWey collected 25 assists on the night.
The Belles (11-8, 7-5 MIAA) return home on Friday to host Albion at 7:00 p.m.