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Belles Fall in Four Sets to Brits in MIAA Opener

Megan Collantes hits the volleyball near the net. Two teammates are pictured in the foreground, and several spectators are visible in the background.
ALBION, Mich. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team fell in a hard-fought 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 23-25, 25-20) conference match at Albion on Tuesday evening.
The host Brits jumped out to a 9-3 lead before the Belles battled back to tie the match at 17-17 with a 5-0 run after a time out. Megan Collantes, Sam Vorderer, and Nicole Lukens all picked up kills during that same run. The teams traded points back-and-forth with ties at both 18-18 and 19-19 before Albion put four consecutive points on the scoreboard for a 23-19 advantage. Saint Mary's fought off a pair of set points at 24-21 and 24-22 with a kill and an Albion attack error, but a kill by the Brits ended the set with a 25-23 score.
A 10-2 run early in the second set by Albion gave the Brits momentum they would not give up in the stanza. The Belles capitalized on some miscues by Albion to edge within four points at 14-10, but the Brits distanced themselves with a 5-1 spurt to build a 19-11 lead. Unable to close the gap, Saint Mary's fell in the second set by a 25-16 score.
Albion took a 4-0 lead in the third set, but the Belles chipped away at the deficit. Alyssa Chong and Morgan VanderWey came up with a big block to make it an 8-7 score in favor of the Brits. The teams traded points until a ball handling error by Albion was followed by a kill by Morgan VanderWey tied the score at 11-11. With the Brits ahead 13-11, Saint Mary's rattled off three big points in-a-row. Hannah Stacy put down a kill, Megan Collantes had a stuff block on the outside, and Collantes pounded down a no-doubt kill to put the Belles up 14-13. The Belles pulled ahead 18-14 with a 4-0 run, but the Brits responded with a four-point run to make it 18-18. Albion then broke a 19-19 tie with three points before going up 23-21. Saint Mary's fought all the way back, however, as the Belles put away four consecutive points for a 25-23 win.
The Brits gained early momentum in the fourth stanza with a 9-4 lead. A short while later, however, Saint Mary's used a 9-2 run to push ahead 13-11. The score was tied at 13-13, 14-14, and 15-15. Albion broke that last tie with consecutive miscues by the Belles. Saint Mary's pulled within a point at 17-16, 18-17, and 20-19, but the Brits swayed the momentum for good with a four-point run for a 24-19 lead. Nicole Lukens kept the match alive for the Belles with a kill, but the Brits closed out the set and the match with a kill of their own in the 25-20 decision.
Megan Collantes led all players with 15 kills on the night while putting up 20 digs. Lindsey Pelletier added 14 kills, and Nicole Lukens posted nine kills and 20 digs. Brittney Tarkanyi collected 20 digs for the Belles as the junior surpassed the 500-dig plateau, and Morgan VanderWey tallied 41 assists and two service aces.
The Belles (6-7, 0-1 MIAA) return home to host North Park on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.