After narrowly missing out on a berth in the 2018 MIAA Tournament, the Saint Mary's volleyball team is locked in to returning to the postseason event for the third time in four seasons.
Helping lead the way in 2019 are Morgan VanderWey and Nicole Lukens. VanderWey was an MIAA Player of the Week last fall while becoming just the fourth player in the rally scoring history of Saint Mary's volleyball to amass more than 1,000 assists in a season. The junior setter ranks fourth all-time among Belles setters in career assists since the NCAA moved from side-out scoring to rally scoring in 2001. Lukens, meanwhile, was the third player in program history overall and the second in the rally scoring era to post more than 400 kills in a season after putting down 408 in her junior year.
Middle hitters Lindsey Pelletier and Alyssa Chong combined to collect more than 470 kills a season ago and contributed over 100 blocks for the Belles. Pelletier had a team-best .256 attack percentage and led the squad with 60 total blocks while ranking second in kills with 260. Chong chipped in 43 blocks during her sophomore campaign and was third on the team in kills with 216.
Brittney Tarkanyi, Nola Wallace, Hannah Stacy, and Claire Hennessy all return from the 2018 squad and will be looked toward for contributions to the team's success. Tarkanyi had a career-high 236 digs a season ago and is the frontrunner to be the team's go-to libero/defensive specialist. Wallace had more than 130 kills in her first season with the Belles and was third in blocks with 39 last fall. Stacy tallied more than 90 kills, and Hennessy posted 191 digs as the pair return for their sophomore season.
The Belles welcome six newcomers as Lukens, VanderWey, and Chong will serve as team captains in 2019.
The team is up to the task as they face a challenging slate of competition this fall. The Belles' schedule features several teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25 Preseason Poll: No. 1 Emory, No. 2 Calvin, No. 16 Wisconsin-Whitewater, No. 21 Hope, and Muskingum and Susquehanna, who each received votes in the poll.
Saint Mary's opens the season on Friday, August 30 and Saturday, August 31 when they travel to Lake Forest for the Forester Invitational. The home opener for the Belles is Wednesday, September 11 when Manchester visits Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex. Saint Mary's kicks off MIAA competition on Tuesday, September 24 at Albion.