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Belles Fall to Fighting Muskies, Battle Past Panthers

Nicole Lukens passes the volleyball.
GREENCASTLE, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team bounced back from a 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-17) loss against a tough Muskingum team to take a 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 28-26) win over Hanover on Saturday at DePauw University.
The opening match of the day saw the Belles square off against a Muskingum squad which boasts an 11-1 record and is receiving votes in the latest AVCA Division III Top 25 poll. The Fighting Muskies built a 6-1 lead in the opening set, but Saint Mary's edged back within two points at 12-10 midway through the stanza. Muskingum, however, rattled off the next five points on their way to a 25-15 first-set win. The Fighting Muskies used an early run in the second set and led by at least five points throughout the remainder of the set for a 25-13 decision. The third set saw Muskingum take an early lead they would not relinquish. The Belles cut a nine-point deficit to as few as three at 20-17, but the Fighting Muskies closed out the set and the match with a five points run for the 25-17 final.
Lindsey Pelletier led the Belles with nine kills while hitting .400 against Muskingum. Alyssa Chong added six kills, and Megan Collantes chipped in five. Brittney Tarkanyi put up 17 digs, and Claire Hennessy recorded 18 assists. Nola Wallace was part of five blocks against the Fighting Muskies.
The Panthers broke an 18-18 tie in the opening set with a 7-0 run to capture the opening frame of the second match of the day for both teams. The Belles countered with a late run in the second set as Saint Mary's broke a 17-17 deadlock with a 4-1 spurt on their way to drawing even at one set apiece with a 25-22 win. Trailing 22-16 in the third set, Saint Mary's made an impressive 7-0 run - starting with a block by Lindsey Pelletier and Claire Hennessy and including six consecutive kills - to edge ahead 23-22 against Hanover. The Panthers pulled even at 23-23, but Nicole Lukens and Allison Thornton closed out the set with back-to-back kills. Hanover was in the driver's seat to force a fifth set as they led 24-23 before Lukens pounded down consecutive kills for a 25-24 Saint Mary's lead. The teams went back-and-forth with ties at 25-25 and 26-26 before a Hanover service error was followed by an attack error by the Panthers as the Belles took the 3-1 win with a 28-26 decision in the set.
Nicole Lukens reached the 1,000 career dig milestone in the second set of the Hanover match before ending the contest with 29 digs. The senior also posted the third-highest kill total in a four-set match in the rally scoring era of Saint Mary's volleyball with 28 kills against the Panthers. The new career-high for Lukens is also tied for the fourth-most in a match by a Saint Mary's student-athlete since 2001.
Brittney Tarkanyi nearly doubled her career-high for digs in a match and was one away from matching the school record for digs in a match with a contest-best 45 digs. It is just the fourth time in program history a player has amassed 40 or more digs in a single contest. Megan Collantes added a season-high 20 kills while boasting a .404 attack percentage from the outside. The freshman chipped in 18 digs. Claire Hennessy recorded a career-best 57 assists while narrowly missing out on a double-double with nine digs. Allison Thornton posted a .429 attack percentage with seven kills in the win.

The Belles (6-6) open conference play on Tuesday, September 24 when they travel to Albion for a 7:00 p.m. match.