2017 Season in Review
- The volleyball team posted their fourth consecutive 15+ win season.
- The Belles matched their highest MIAA finish (third).
- A program-record three student-athletes earned All-MIAA recognition.
Two experienced seniors, a returning sophomore, and several new faces made up a winning equation for the Saint Mary’s volleyball team in 2017.
The Belles bounced back from a pair of losses at the Otterbein/Capital tournament to start the year by earning wins over Alma and Kalamazoo. The team had a setback against defending NCAA champion Calvin on the road before taking then-ranked Hope to the brink in a 3-2 thriller at home. The team then rattled off three consecutive wins at the Illinois College Tournament in mid-September as the squad continued to build cohesion.
A pair of conference setbacks against Albion and Trine set up the Belles for one of the most impressive stretches in program history. With a 5-7 overall record and a 2-4 conference record, the team found their stride and put all doubt aside as Saint Mary’s went 11-2 over their next 13 contests. The Belles won 35 of the 45 sets played in those 13 matches and took eight wins in sweeps, including a 3-0 victory over Hope on the road in mid-October.
The tail end of that same streak of success saw the team win their final three MIAA matches of the season. The Belles won their second round contest against Trine 3-1 before sweeping both Olivet and Adrian on the road to clinch a third-place finish in the MIAA. Home sweeps of Manchester and Illinois Tech gave the team 16 wins on the year, marking the most victories in a season since the 2006 season. Additionally, Saint Mary’s posted their fourth consecutive 15+ win season, marking just the second time in the history of the program that the Belles had four straight seasons with at least 15 victories (1986-89).
The season came to a close with a 3-0 setback against Hope in the semifinal round of the MIAA Tournament. After the conclusion of that match, it was announced that Rachel Bonek (First Team), Marielle Corbett (First Team), and Audrey Shannon (Second Team) had all earned All-MIAA honors for their efforts during the season. It was the first time in program history three Saint Mary’s student-athletes had received all-conference accolades. Additionally, Corbett became the second Belle to pick up MIAA Freshman of the Year honors (Lorna Slupczynski, 2006).
Other individual honors throughout the fall included:
All-Tournament Team Selections:
- Leah Buck, Otterbein/Capital Tournament
- Nicole Lukens, Illinois College Tournament II
MIAA Players of the Week:
- Audrey Shannon, Week #2 Specialist
- Nicole Lukens, Week #3 Player
- Audrey Shannon, Week #5 Specialist
- Marielle Corbett, Week #5 Player
- Marielle Corbett, Week #9 Player
Corbett led the team with 303 kills while averaging 3.19 kills per set during her freshman season. She was also tied for first on the team in aces (24), second in digs (315), and fourth in total blocks (31). Rachel Bonek wrapped up a solid career for the Belles with single-season highs of kills (281), aces (13), and digs (194) while finishing second on the team in blocks (44). Nicole Lukens (236 kills) and Leah Buck (196) rounded out the top four kill producers for the team in 2017. Lukens, a transfer from Clarion University, made an impact beyond just kills as the sophomore picked up 291 digs (3.38 digs per set). Buck finished second all-time in rally scoring in career blocks for the Belles (245) while posting the most kills in a single season during her senior year. Marshall University transfer Audrey Shannon paced the defense with 517 digs as the team’s starting libero. That total marks just the third time a Belle has surpassed 500 digs in the rally scoring era and is the fourth-most digs in a season in the history of the program. The junior matched Corbett’s ace total of 24 to share team-high honors in 2017. Morgan VanderWey, meanwhile, tallied 954 assists in her freshman year to average 10.1 assists per set. That total came in as the fourth-highest assist total in rally scoring history for the program. She chipped in 22 aces and was fourth in digs (207).