Volleyball Makes Statement with 5-Set Win

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
 

Soccer

To be the best, you have to beat the best.

The Muhlenberg volleyball team had already put together a strong resume when it hit the road to take on perennial conference power Haverford, but a victory over the Fords would qualify as a statement. Consider the Mules’ message received.

Muhlenberg used its dynamic blocking abilities to turn the tide and pull out a thrilling, five-set victory at Haverford that took the program back more than a decade – and also moved it several steps forward.

Sarah Weyhmuller
Weyhmuller (left) and Boll go up for a block in the first set. The Mules' 14 blocks were a season high.
When the Mules (12-5, 5-1) forced the Fords into a final error on match point, it broke a string of 12 consecutive losses in the series. Muhlenberg hadn’t beaten Haverford since 2001, coincidentally the last time the Mules won six matches in a row – a feat they equaled with their most exciting win yet, one that pulled them to within just a half-game of Franklin & Marshall atop the CC standings.

Freshman Allison Glass led the way with 16 kills and added 10 digs for Muhlenberg, while classmate Ali Mayer posted a double-double with 23 assists and 14 digs. Sophomore co-captain Chelsea Kaser had a career-high 33 digs and junior Nikki Dickson produced 20 assists and eight digs for the Mules, who finished with 14 blocks, five of which came in the deciding set as Muhlenberg forced error after error.

“Our blocking has been awesome,” said sophomore Katherine Boll, who added 10 blocks to her 10 kills. “We’ve been able to utilize our defense better, and we’re more complete as a team.”

Against a program that has made the CC playoffs every year since 2000, the Mules showed they meant business from the get-go. Trailing 24-20 in the first set, Muhlenberg staved off all four set points, and one more at 25-24, to pull out a 27-25 decision. A service error by the Fords and consecutive kills by junior co-captain Holly Hynson, who finished with nine on the night, pulled the Mules to within a point, and they capped the comeback by forcing Haverford into one of its 32 errors. After the Fords earned another set point, Boll erased it with a kill, and the Mules closed out the set with a kill by Hynson and a block by Boll and sophomore Erin Murphy.

The Fords returned the favor, though, winning the last six points of the second set to eke out a 26-24 result. But the Mules never wavered.

Their resolve strengthened even more after they let a 2-1 lead slip away and fell behind 3-1 in the fifth. Muhlenberg won six of the next seven points, punctuated by a kill from Hynson, and pulled away from there for its signature victory of the season.

The Mules forced Haverford into eight errors in the fifth set, allowing just six kills as the Fords hit -.091 down the stretch. The Mules, conversely, hit .267 in the final set, with Glass producing two kills and Boll, Hynson and sophomore Joanne Josephson (5 kills, 5 aces, 4 blocks) contributing one apiece.

Sophomore Sarah Weyhmuller added eight blocks for Muhlenberg, which last made the conference playoffs in 2009. This year, though, seems to have a different feel, and the Mules are noticing.

After withstanding plenty of adversity and a raucous Haverford student section, the Mules are dreaming big, and with good reason. Matched up with a perennial power, Muhlenberg saw the kind of program it would like to become. The Mules hope a win like this, and continued success as the season goes on, can be a springboard to being a consistent contender in the CC.

“It boosts our confidence, definitely,” Boll said. “This is one of the harder teams in the conference, and [beating them] feels awesome.”
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