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Belles Battle Back to Take Down Hornets

Alyssa Chong prepares to hit the volleyball over the net over the outstretched hands of a defensive player.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team bounced back from an opening-set loss to take a 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-12) win over Kalamazoo on Wednesday evening.

The Belles took the first three points of the opening set only to see the Hornets rattle off a 7-0 scoring run for a 7-3 advantage. A service error by Kalamazoo gave the serve back to Saint Mary's, and Audrey Shannon delivered back-to-back aces to put the Belles right back in business. Alyssa Chong hammered home a kill to tie it at 7-7, and she added kills to knot the score at 8-8 and 9-9. With the score tied at 10-10, Kalamazoo regained the lead again with three consecutive points. Saint Mary's chipped away at the deficit before tying the score three more times at 16-16, 17-17, and 18-18, but the Belles were unable to regain a lead against the Hornets. A bad set late in the stanza pushed Saint Mary's within a point of Kalamazoo at 23-22, but the Hornets closed out the set three points later with a kill for the 25-23 win.

Kalamazoo claimed a 5-2 lead early in the second set, but the Belles used a 14-2 scoring run to gain a 16-7 advantage. Alyssa Chong and Hannah Stacy helped start that spurt with a pair of kills, and Lindsey Pelletier and Nicole Lukens helped complement the offensive attack as the Belles built an insurmountable lead against the Hornets. Saint Mary's continued to lead by at least six points over the remainder of the set en route to the 25-16 win.

The momentum shifted even more for the Belles in the third set as Saint Mary's posted a .407 attack percentage with 15 kills and four errors on just 27 attempts. The home side never trailed and shut the door on a comeback attempt by the Hornets with a four-point spurt late in the set. Leading 14-12, Chong and Stacy put down back-to-back kills before Claire Hennessy served up an ace to make it a 17-12 score. Chong added another kill for an 18-12 Saint Mary's lead, and the Belles led by at least five points down the stretch. Brittany Tarkanyi served out the set with six consecutive serves leading to points with Chong and Lukens tallying kills late for the 25-13 win.

Kalamazoo opened the fourth set with three consecutive points before the teams tied the score at 5-5 and 6-6. The Belles broke the second of those ties with a Kalamazoo attack error and consecutive kills by Chong and Stacy. A Saint Mary's service error made it a two-point match, and the Hornets were within three points of the Belles at 11-8 just a short while later. Three quick points by the home side, however, swayed the momentum back in favor of Saint Mary's as Lukens and Morgan VanderWey tallied consecutive kills before Chong tallied an ace. The Belles led by at least five points for the remainder of the set, and back-to-back miscues by the Hornets concluded the set and the match with a 25-12 final.

The Belles matched their season-high mark of 11 service aces on the night while only conceding one ace defensively.

Alyssa Chong tied for match-high honors with 15 kills while tallying a .464 attack percentage and posting a new career-high for digs with seven. Nicole Lukens added a double-double with 13 kills and 14 digs, and Morgan VanderWey notched a double-double with 42 assists and 12 digs. Hannah Stacy put down eight kills, and Audrey Shannon led all players with 25 digs and five service aces. Lindsey Pelletier added seven kills, and Brittney Tarkanyi, Claire Hennessy, and Chong each recorded two service aces.

The Belles (12-17, 2-5 MIAA) travel to Trine on Saturday for the final match of the regular season with a berth to the MIAA Tournament on the line for both teams. The contest begins at 11:00 a.m.