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Belles Fight Past Thunder as Lukens Surpasses 1000 Kills

The team celebrates after winning the final point.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team made Senior Night a memorable one as the Belles took down Trine in a 3-1 (27-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-23) conference win on Friday night.
Saint Mary's came out strong in the first set against Trine as the Belles built a 7-2 lead. The Thunder chipped away and pulled within a point at 11-10, but the Belles continued to maintain the lead. Back-to-back kills late in the set by Nicole Lukens and Alyssa Chong forced the Thunder into calling a timeout with Saint Mary's ahead 21-18. A few points later, Trine rattled off a 4-0 run to go up set-point at 24-22. The Belles came out of a timeout with a big kill by Megan Collantes. Collantes and Lindsey Pelletier then teamed up for a block to pull even at 24-24, and Claire Hennessey served up an ace for a 25-24 lead. The Thunder put down a kill on the next play, but an attack error by Trine was followed by a kill off the blockers by Lukens to give the Belles the 27-25 win.
With the Belles leading 6-5 in the second stanza, Saint Mary's put together a 13-4 run to take over the momentum with a 19-9 lead. Lukens, Chong, Collantes, and Pelletier all provided offensive firepower during that stretch as the trio combined for eight kills. The Thunder cut the deficit to eight points at 22-14, but the Belles picked up a kill by Morgan VanderWey and a service ace by Allison Thornton before Lukens closed out the set with a kill at 25-15.
Neither side was able to establish more than a four-point lead early in the third set as the scoreboard saw the teams tied five occasions. The last of those ties came at the 14-14 mark on an Alyssa Chong kill by the Belles. Trine, however, gained four-point leads with a quick spurt at both 18-14 and 19-15. Saint Mary's battled back with three consecutive kills by Lindsey Pelletier put the Belles right back in business at 19-18. A Trine block on the next play kept the Thunder ahead, and the visitors continued to hold off the Belles on the way to a 25-21 win in the set.
The fourth set featured six ties and four lead changes. One such tie occurred at 14-14 with Trine pushing ahead for a 19-14 lead. After a timeout, Collantes pounded down a kill before Nicole Lukens registered her 1,000th career kill to make it a 19-16 score as the Belles fed off the energy from the milestone. An attack error and a service ace by Collantes pulled Saint Mary's to within a point at 19-18. After a Trine kill, the Belles tallied points on a Lukens kill, back-to-back errors, and another Lukens kill for a 22-20 lead. Lukens and Pelletier put down a kill apiece a short while later for a 24-21 Saint Mary's lead, and Pelletier closed out the match with a kill for the 25-22 win.
Nicole Lukens led all players with 20 kills as she became the eighth player in Saint Mary's volleyball history to amass 1,000 career kills. She is only the second player to accomplish the feat in three years. The senior co-captain added 17 digs and a service ace to cap off a successful Senior Recognition Night.
Megan Collantes added 14 kills and 19 digs, and Lindsey Pelletier posted 13 kills on a .312 hitting performance. Morgan VanderWey tallied a double-double with 45 assists and 11 digs. Brittney Tarkanyi registered a match-high 22 digs.
The Belles (13-15, 3-5 MIAA) await the outcome of the final regular season results in league standings on Saturday. Those results will determine whether or not Saint Mary's will take the sixth and final spot in the MIAA Tournament next week.