Saint Mary’s broke even this weekend at the Manchester Invitational, winning a pair of opening matches on Saturday before losing the final two matches on Sunday.
The Belles (3-8) beat Franklin College, 3-1 (26-24, 25-10, 22-25, 25-19), to open the tournament. victory for Saint Mary’s (3-8). Sophomore Autumn Nelson led the team with 15 kills, while contributing five digs and two service aces. Sophomore Stephanie Bodien added eight kills, five digs and four aces. Freshman Hailee Leitz served a team-high eight aces.
“We really served aggressively against them, which allowed us to get them out of their system and help us run our offense really well,” Belles coach Toni Kuschel said.
The next match for the Belles was on Saturday against Milikin University White squad. Prior to the tournament, Milikin split into white and blue squads to accommodate the absence of a previously committed team. Saint Mary’s earned a 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 24-26, 25-23, 16-14) victory over the Big Blue.
“In our match versus Milikin, again our outside hitters really did a wonderful job for us — Autumn Nelson having 15 kills and Stephanie Bodien having 16,” Kuschel said.
Continuing the tournament on Sunday, the Belles fell in a close match against Purdue North Central (15-4) by a score of 3-1 (25-13, 25-22, 23-25, 25-22. Contributers included Leitz with 33 assists and seven digs, senior Meghann Rose with a team-high 20 digs and senior Ellen Huelsmann with 10 digs.
“We were pretty close with Purdue North Central and went point-for-point,” Kuschel said. “We just made some critical errors.”
Saint Mary’s faced the Milikin Blue team for the second and final match on Sunday and lost by a score of 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-15). Freshman Christi Wyble had five blocks and Rose made 11 digs.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to learn from our errors and come back strong this week in conference play,” Kuschel said. “We have some big matches coming up this week. This weekend has definitely helped us see what we need to work on tomorrow at practice before Tuesday’s match against Kalamazoo.”