Volleyball Returns to Centennial Final

Saturday, November 8, 2014 - page 2

Allison Glass The second time was the charm for the Muhlenberg volleyball team against Swarthmore, and the Mules hope it is again in the Centennial Conference championship match.

The Mules advanced to the final for the second year in a row with a 3-1 win against the Garnet, a team they were swept by just a few weeks ago. After losing in the final last season, they will take on Franklin & Marshall, which toppled top seed Haverford in the other semi, with their first CC title within reach.

“We worked really hard the last four practices and really were able to find the motivation to win from within ourselves,” said junior Katherine Boll. “So when we were on the court we were playing more cohesive as a team. And the win is amazing.”

Muhlenberg (25-7) showed its playoff experience from the start, scoring the first five points of the match. Swarthmore’s lack of playoff experience may have played a role, as four of the points came on attack errors. The Mule defense certainly did.

Vanessa Pulice “After playing them earlier, we knew what they were going to try to do. So we set up our block really well and we were ready for them,” noted sophomore Allison Glass.

Swarthmore (22-7) hit .216 in the earlier meeting but was held to .048 in the playoff rematch. The Garnet’s top hitter recorded 16 kills and hit .350, but the rest of the team had seven more errors than kills.

The Mules showed their usual balance on offense, with Glass (13) and Boll (12) both reaching double figures in kills and junior Sarah Weyhmuller adding eight.

Despite a late run by the Garnet to cut the lead to two, Muhlenberg won the first set, 25-22, and took control early in the second set as well en route to a 25-20 win. Swarthmore stayed alive by taking the third set, 25-14, but the Mules overcame the hiccup to wrap up the match in the fourth set, 25-14.

“This win was honestly the best feeling ever,” said Glass (left). “Even when we struggled a little in the third set, I knew we would be ok and be able to win.”

Glass had a match-high 17 digs and was part of a reception effort that allowed the Garnet only six aces, as opposed to 12 in the first meeting. Junior Chelsea Kaser added 16 digs, and sophomore Elizabeth Garrison and junior Vanessa Pulice had nine apiece. Pulice (right) ran the offense well, recording 25 assists.

Muhlenberg’s opponent in the final is on quite a run. The two teams met in the CC opener back on September 17, with the Mules winning a five-set thriller against an F&M squad that went through the CC regular season undefeated in 2013. The Diplomats (20-11) were 2-4 in the CC a month ago but won their final four matches to qualify for the playoffs as the fifth seed and enter the championship match with a seven-match winning streak.

“Today was obviously a big hoop to jump, and we need to bring it tomorrow as well,” said Boll. “To get through today [with the win] gives us all the motivation we need to take it home tomorrow.”
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