HOLLAND, Mich. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team fell in a tight 3-1 (22-25, 26-24, 27-25, 25-15) conference match against No. 13 ranked Hope on Tuesday evening.
With the opening set tied 6-6, the Belles went on a 5-0 run to claim an 11-6 edge over the Flying Dutch. Alyssa Chong started the scoring run with a kill followed by a Nicole Lukens kill. A pair of hitting errors by Hope made it 10-6, and Lukens put down another kill for the five-point lead. The Flying Dutch responded with four consecutive points, but Lukens stopped the run with another kill. The two sides played a long stretch of back-and-forth scoring before the Flying Dutch knotted the score at 20-20. Lukens put Saint Mary's back ahead with a kill, but Hope tied the score again at 21-21 with a kill. A kill by Nola Wallace gave the lead back to Saint Mary's, and an attack error by the home side made it a 23-21 lead for the Belles as Hope called a timeout. Morgan VanderWey put down a kill to put Saint Mary's up set-point at 24-21, and Laura Keating closed out the set two points later with a kill for the 25-22 win. During that same point, Audrey Shannon posted her 10th dig of the set to reach 1,000 career digs with the Belles.
Saint Mary's used a pair of four-point runs early in the second set to gain a 9-4 edge over Hope with Lukens, Wallace, and Keating all registering kills and Lindsey Pelletier, Alyssa Chong, and Wallace collecting blocks. The Belles continued to find an answer for the Flying Dutch and prevent Hope from going on a big run as a service ace by Brittney Tarkanyi put Saint Mary's up 18-15. A Hope kill and back-to-back aces, however, tied the score at 18-18. Chong put down a kill for a 19-18 Saint Mary's lead, and a kill by Lukens two points later made it 20-19 in favor of the Belles. The Belles gained a 22-20 lead only to see the Flying Dutch put back-to-back points on the scoreboard. A service error by Hope made it 23-22, and Audrey Shannon served up an ace to put Saint Mary's ahead 24-22. A kill and an ace by Hope tied the score, and a block and a kill by the Flying Dutch gave the home side the 26-24 second-set win.
Trailing 13-11 in the third set, the Belles out-scored the Flying Dutch by a 7-3 margin to take an 18-16 lead. Hope tied the score at 18-18, but Lukens registered another kill and an attack error by Hope put the Belles up 20-18. Hope gained a pair of one-point leads before going up 24-22, but Saint Mary's continued to fight. Hannah Stacy put down a kill to keep the set alive, and Lukens added a kill to tie the score at 24-24. Facing set point again at 25-24, Lukens put another kill down to knot the score yet again at 25-25. A kill by Hope and a block by the Flying Dutch, however, gave Hope the set by a 27-25 score.
Hope pulled ahead 10-4 in the fourth set, but Saint Mary's chipped away at the deficit to edge within four points at 17-13. A Hope service error spurred a scoring run by the Belles as Saint Mary's used a 6-1 surge to get close. The Flying Dutch, however, out-scored the Belles by an 8-2 margin over the final stretch of the set to take the match with a 25-15 win.
Nicole Lukens led all players with 20 kills while also picking up 18 digs for her 20th double-double of the season. Audrey Shannon tallied her 1,000th dig with the Belles and led all players with 29 digs in the contest. Nola Wallace had eight kills. Morgan VanderWey posted 39 assists and eight digs, and Claire Hennessy chipped in 10 digs.
The Belles (10-15, 1-5 MIAA) travel to the Keystone State this weekend when they take part in the Carnegie Mellon Tournament on Friday and Saturday.