Fresh off of finishing fourth in the MIAA in each of the past two seasons, the Saint Mary’s volleyball team has their sights set on moving up even higher in the conference rankings in the season ahead. Denise Van De Walle takes over the program and aims to have the Belles fighting for one of the four spots in the conference tournament in November.
With the graduation of one of the largest classes in recent history for the volleyball program, several returners and newcomers anxiously anticipate stepping up for the Belles in 2015.
Seniors Katie Hecklinski ’16 and Angela Bukur ’16 will be looked toward for their experience and leadership. The pair have made significant contributions to the team’s success over their first three years with the program. Hecklinski has over 1,000 career digs and is quickly closing in on 1,000 kills as one of the squad’s starting outside hitters during the past three seasons. Bukur, meanwhile, has been solid in the backcourt as a defensive specialist and has played in well over 100 sets.
Clare McMillan’17, Meaghan Gibbons ’17, Rachel Bonek ’18, and Leah Buck ’18 were all key contributors to the team’s success last fall. Last year, McMillan recorded her 1,000th career assist in just the 30th match of her career. Gibbons led the team with 415 digs after moving from the outside hitter position to being the team’s starting libero. Bonek and Buck, meanwhile, were second and third on the team in blocks during their first season with the Belles, respectively. Collectively, the large group of returning players will help lead the way in all facets of the game in 2015.
The Belles open the season at home on Tuesday, September 1 when they host Manchester at 7:00 p.m. Saint Mary’s then heads to the highly competitive Elmhurst Invitational on Friday and Saturday, September 4 and 5. The Belles then open the conference slate of the season against pre-season favorite and AVCA No. 1 ranked Calvin on Wednesday, September 9 at Angela Athletic Facility.