Comeback Bid Stopped Short for Belles Against No. 18 Flying Dutch
- Marielle Corbett had a match-high 20 kills while hitting .340 and added 21 digs.
- Audrey Shannon was tied for match-high honors with 23 digs.
- Morgan VanderWey collected a double-double with 29 assists and 10 digs while registering three service aces.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team was up to the challenge against No. 18 Hope, but the Belles fell just short of their upset bid in a 3-2 (25-13, 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 15-8) final on Wednesday night.
Trailing 5-2 early in the first set, Saint Mary's came back to tie the score at 8-8 with Leah Buck and Marielle Corbett putting down consecutive kills. The Flying Dutch responded with a big 9-0 run to distance themselves with a 17-8 lead. Hope led by at least seven points on their way to a 25-13 opening set win. In the second stanza, the visiting Flying Dutch again established an early lead with five of the first six points. The Belles pulled within three points at 8-5 and four points on five occasions a few points later. As the set moved on, the Belles continue to chip away and made it a two-point contest at 22-20, 23-21, and 24-22, but Saint Mary's could not put enough consecutive points together late in the set as Hope took the 25-22 set win.
The third set saw the two sides combine for 50 digs while also featuring six ties with the last of those coming at 17-17. A ball handling error against Hope gave Saint Mary's a lead, and the Belles rattled off five more points for a 23-17 lead. Corbett had three kills in that run while the Flying Dutch made two additional errors. Saint Mary's pushed the score to set point at 24-18 before Hope made it interesting with a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to 24-22. Rachel Bonek, however, put down a no-doubt kill from the outside for the 25-22 win for the Belles.
For as tightly-played as the third set was, the fourth set was just as nail-biting as the score was tied ten different times. Rachel Bonek and Alyssa Chong combined for a block midway through the set to give Saint Mary's their largest lead at 13-8. Nine points later, a Hope double block tied the score at 15-15. The Belles regained the lead after an attack error and a service ace by Laura Keating, but the Flying Dutch responded with four consecutive points to go up 19-18. Both teams traded points back and forth as the set saw its final tie at 21-21. Marielle Corbett broke that tie with a kill, the Flying Dutch had a hitting error, Morgan VanderWey served up an ace, and Corbett closed out the set with a kill to lift Saint Mary's to the 25-21 win and force a decisive fifth set.
The two teams continued to fight back and forth for points early in the third set with Leah Buck and Corbett picking up kills early in the set. With the score at 3-3, Hope went on what proved to be a match-deciding run as the Flying Dutch took five consecutive points for an 8-3 edge. The Belles pulled within three points at both 8-5 and 9-6, but a four-point run gave Hope a 13-6 lead before going on to take the set 15-8.
Marielle Corbett had a match-high 20 kills while hitting .340 and added 21 digs. Leah Buck put down nine kills, and Rachel Bonek chipped in seven kills. Audrey Shannon was tied for match-high honors with 23 digs. Morgan VanderWey collected a double-double with 29 assists and 10 digs while registering three service aces. Nicole Lukens tallied a season-high 15 digs, and Laura Keating posted 12 assists.
The last time the Belles went five sets with Hope was in 2009 when the then-ranked No. 8 Flying Dutch took a 25-9, 25-19, 20-25, 21-25, 15-10 decision.
The Belles (2-4, 2-2 MIAA) travel to Illinois College on Friday for a two-day tournament. Saint Mary's opens play against Lincoln Christian University at 3:30 p.m. CDT.