WICHITA, Kan. – Ten and oh!

The St. Mary’s volleyball team pulled off something no other team in program history has ever done, starting the season 10-0 following a tight, 3-2 victory over Newman in the Heartland Conference opener Thursday.

The previous mark on record for the Rattlers was 9-0, set in 1996. St. Mary’s began varsity volleyball competition in 1976.

While the Rattlers make winning look easy, getting that 10th win was anything but on Thursday.

St. Mary’s was down 2-1 before winning the fourth set 25-20, which catapulted them into the fifth set with all the momentum they needed, winning 15-12. For the match, they won 25-20, 21-25, 17-25, 25-20, 15-12.

Stephanie Proske (Sr., La Grange) led the Rattlers with a monster offensive showing, recording 19 kills and a .467 hitting percentage. Mallory Moeller (Sr., Geronimo, Texas) also shined with 16 kills, while Karlie Ortega (So., San Antonio) and Adrianna Keys (Sr., San Antonio) also achieved double-digit kills with 11 and 10, respectively.

Allie Murray (Jr., San Antonio) had 54 assists and three service aces, while freshman libero Victorria Martinez of Arlington, Texas led the team with 25 digs.

St. Mary’s improved to 10-0 overall and 1-0 in conference, while Newman dropped to 1-5 and 0-1.

The Rattlers’ hot start follows their equally as hot finish to the 2010 season, when they won nine of their final 14 games en route to winning the Heartland Conference Tournament championship for the first time since 2000 and advancing to the NCAA Division II South Central Regional for the first time in school history.

Up next is a highly intriguing showdown against Arkansas-Fort Smith (9-2, 1-0) on Saturday – a match that could very well shape where this year’s conference tournament ultimately will be held. The teams will compete at 12 p.m. Saturday in Fort Smith, Ark.

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