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Belles Show Grit in Upset Win, Setback Against Nationally-Ranked Foes

Members of the volleyball team celebrate a point.
ATLANTA, Ga. - The Saint Mary's volleyball team took a big 3-1 (30-28, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20) win over No. 7 ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater before falling in a 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-14) final against No. 3 ranked Emory on Friday at the Emory Invitational.
The Belles came out swinging against the No. 7 ranked Warhawks as Nola Wallace and Megan Collantes put down back-to-back kills. A four-point run a short while later pushed Saint Mary's ahead 13-6. Wisconsin-Whitewater fought off multiple set points by the Belles at 24-21 to tie the set at 24-24, and Saint Mary's returned the favor after training 26-25. With the score 28-28, Collantes put down another kill before Lindsey Pelletier put away the set with a kill for the 30-28 win. As a team, the Belles hit a staggering .385 in the first set led by a .422 effort (19 kills, no errors, 45 attempts) collectively from Megan Collantes, Nicole Lukens, Lindsey Pelletier, and Nola Wallace.
After three early ties in the second set, the Belles took a lead at 5-4 that they would not relinquish. A quick scoring spurt put Saint Mary's up 13-8, and the Belles held a six-point lead at 21-15 against the Warhawks. Wisconsin-Whitewater took the next point, but the two sides went point-for-point back-and-forth down the stretch. That single trade-off of points was capped off by a Collantes kill for a 25-20 set win.
Saint Mary's gained the upper hand in the third set with short scoring bursts for a 14-9 lead. Wisconsin-Whitewater put the next three points on the scoreboard, but the Belles responded with a 4-1 run to go ahead 18-13 as the Warhawks called their second timeout of the set. A kill by Lukens and a block by Lukens and Wallace gave Saint Mary's a 22-17 advantage, but the nationally-ranked Warhawks fought back with a flurry of points to pull even at 22-22. After another stretch of points being traded back and forth, the Belles were up match-point at 24-23 only to see the Warhawks rattle off three consecutive points to force a fourth set.
Several early ties were broken by Wisconsin-Whitewater as the Warhawks turned a 7-7 score into an 12-9 lead. Saint Mary's, however, had other things in mind as the Belles responded with a big 7-0 run for a 16-12 lead. Wisconsin-Whitewater edged their way to within two points at 21-19, but Lukens had a big kill and an error by the Warhawks put Saint Mary's ahead 23-19. Lukens then terminated the next point after a timeout before closing out the win two points later for the Belles' 25-20 set win.
The win over the No. 7 Warhawks is the program's first win over an NCAA Division III Top Ten opponent in program history.
Megan Collantes was nearly unstoppable on the outside as the freshman had a match-high 22 kills with just one error on 44 attempts for a .477 attack percentage. Collantes added 10 digs and two service aces. Nicole Lukens posted a double-double with 17 kills and 20 digs while registering  three service aces. Nola Wallace had seven kills and four blocks, and Lindsey Pelletier chipped in seven kills and two blocks. Morgan VanderWey posted a double-double of her own with 48 assists and 11 digs. Brittney Tarkanyi made several big digs en route to a match-high 25 digs in the win.
The Belles carried over momentum from the big win in the first match and played toe-to-toe with the defending national champion Eagles to open play against Emory. Both sides jockeyed for position as the Belles took an early lead before the Eagles posted five points for a 7-4 advantage. Saint Mary's chipped away and pulled even at 9-9 and 10-10 before kills by Nicole Lukens and Nola Wallace put the Belles ahead 12-10. The Eagles responded with four points, but the Belles drew even again at 15-15. A 5-1 run by Emory put the hosts ahead 20-16, and the Belles were unable to get within fewer than three points down the stretch as the Eagles took the set 25-18.
Emory took the first five points of the second set and kept the momentum going. Saint Mary's worked to put together a late-set run with a 5-1 spurt to cut the deficit to seven at 19-12. Wallace and Lukens each picked up another kill while Chloe Koehr added a kill of her own. The two teams traded points back-and-forth late as the comeback effort was halted with a 25-15 win in the stanza by Emory.
Saint Mary's showed their resolve with a strong push in the third set. With Emory ahead 9-5, the Belles out-scored their opponents 7-3 over the next ten points of action to knot the score at 12-12. Nola Wallace and Chloe Koehr teamed up for a block two points later as the score stood at 13-13. The Eagles, however, took the momentum for good with a 9-0 run for a 22-13 advantage. Megan Collantes stopped the run with a kill, but Emory closed out the three-set win with three consecutive points for the 25-14 decision.
Nicole Lukens led the Belles in match two with nine kills. Nola Wallace posted six kills and two blocks, and Chloe Koehr had four blocks. Megan Collantes led the team with nine digs, and Morgan VanderWey collected 14 assists and a solo block.
The Belles (10-14) face off against Roanoke and No. 24 Susquehanna on day two of the Emory Invitational. The first match for Saint Mary's is at 1:30 p.m. The second match is set to begin at 4:00 p.m.