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Belles' Season Comes to Close in MIAA Tournament Setback

The volleyball team huddles prior to the start of the match at Trine.
ANGOLA, Ind. - The sixth-seeded Saint Mary's volleyball team saw their 2019 season come to a close with a 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-20, 25-17) loss to third-seeded Trine on Tuesday evening in the first round of the MIAA Tournament.
 
Neither team established larger than a four-point lead in the opening set of play. With the Belles up 12-11 after a Nicole Lukens kill, the Thunder put the next three points on the scoreboard to start a 7-2 run as Trine gained an 18-14 lead. Saint Mary's came right back with a kill by Megan Collantes and a block by Morgan VanderWey and Lindsey Pelletier. Still trailing at 22-19, Lukens and Collantes put down back-to-back kills before Lukens served up an ace to knot the score at 22-22. The teams traded points to push the score to 23-23, but a service error by Saint Mary's was followed by an ace by Trine as the Thunder took the first set 25-23.
 
The Belles fell behind early in the second set as the Thunder built a 6-2 lead through the first eight points of play. An error by Trine helped start a 5-0 spurt for Saint Mary's as the Belles claimed a 7-6 lead. Much like the first set, neither team was able to establish much wiggle room in terms of a sizable advantage as the lead traded hands four times over the next stretch of play. The Belles, however, were able to push ahead by three points at 18-15, 20-17, and 22-19 before claiming a four-point lead at 23-19 on a Trine miscue. The Thunder came out of a timeout to take the next three points to make it a 23-22 score, but a Trine attack error was followed by a Megan Collantes kill as the Belles took the set by a 25-22 margin.
 
Saint Mary's carried that momentum over to the start of the third stanza as the Belles built a 10-5 lead early against the Thunder. A four-point spurt by Trine quickly put the home side back in the mix. Over the remainder of the set, neither team held greater than a five-point lead. With the Belles down 15-14, Pelletier pounded down another kill to knot the score at 15-15. An attack error by Trine was followed by a Morgan VanderWey kill and a Megan Collantes kill as the Belles pushed ahead 18-15. The Thunder, however, responded with the next three points to draw even at 18-18. Collantes and Lukens regained the lead for Saint Mary's with consecutive kills, but Trine put the next seven points on the scoreboard for the 25-20 win in the set.
 
That late surge gave the home side a lot of momentum going into the fourth set as Trine surged out to a 7-1 lead. Saint Mary's continued to fight and used short spurts to pull within three points at 10-7. Back-to-back Trine kills, however, but the Thunder up 12-7. A spurt by Trine pushed the advantage to 16-9 for the home side. Saint Mary's out-scored Trine by a 6-4 margin over the next stretch of action as Lukens and Collantes each picked up another kill to pull the Belles within five points at 20-15. The deficit, however, proved to be too much to overcome late in the set as Trine took the 25-17 set for the four-set decision.
 
Each of the first three sets on the night featured nine ties as the opening three stanzas combined for 14 lead changes.
 
Nicole Lukens led the Belles with 17 kills and added 12 digs in the final match of her career for her 20th double-double of the season. Megan Collantes added a double-double of her own with 13 kills and 11 digs. Lindsey Pelletier chipped in 11 kills. Morgan VanderWey posted 43 assists with nine digs, and Brittney Tarkanyi shared match-high honors with 19 digs.
 
The Belles end the season 13-16 overall.