Volleyball Sweeps Through First Day of Buttermaker

Friday, September 6, 2013

No brooms were used to clean up after the first day of the Buttermaker Tournament, but that didn’t stop the Muhlenberg volleyball team from continuing its sweeping ways.

The Mules took all six sets against Penn State Abington and Neumann, capturing the Pool A title with convincing ease and putting themselves in position to win their home tournament for the first time since 2005. Muhlenberg has won four consecutive matches, all in three sets, and the Mules will carry a 12-set unbeaten streak into Saturday’s winner’s bracket contests against Pool B champion and defending tournament title-holder Salisbury and Pool C representative Gallaudet.

Katherine Boll “We played great,” said sophomore setter Vanessa Pulice, who finished with a team-high 26 assists for the day. “We worked really well as a team, and we definitely improved as each match went on.”

Muhlenberg was only mildly challenged in its opener, taking the first set, 25-19, before sweeping through the next two in dominant fashion. Junior Nikki Dickson paced the Mules with 15 assists, while Pulice added 10 and sophomore co-captain Chelsea Kaser produced five aces.

Against Neumann, the Mules received a stiffer challenge. After taking the first set, Muhlenberg found itself trailing, 20-17, in the second. In grave danger of losing control, the Mules turned in their best sequence of the day, rattling off eight of the next nine points to squelch the Knights’ attempted uprising. A kill by sophomore Erin Murphy and a service ace by freshman Elizabeth Garrison pulled the Mules even at 21 before three straight attack errors by the Knights gave Muhlenberg a set point. The Mules punctuated the 6-0 closing run in style, freshman Allison Glass finishing a feed from Dickson (24 total assists) with a powerful kill.

“It was so important that we had that comeback,” Pulice said. “We just took it one point at a time to get to 25 first. That meant that we won in three instead of four.”

Glass was a force around the net all day for the Mules, spiking her way to a team-best 16 kills. Sophomore Sarah Weyhmuller (six blocks) finished with 14, including a team-high 10 in the Neumann match, while fellow second-year player Katherine Boll (right) contributed seven total blocks and had seven kills on just nine attack attempts against the Nittany Lions. Kaser led the way with 25 total digs and won six straight points on her serve to close out the second set of the victory over Abington.

Playing on their home court for the first time, it was clear from the first serve that the Mules had a little extra fire.

“It’s our first home game, and it’s really exciting, but every game we have to get pumped up for,” said Pulice.

The task only gets more arduous Saturday, when the Mules meet nationally ranked and undefeated Salisbury in the first match before taking on Gallaudet later in the afternoon. With two more victories, Muhlenberg can end a nearly decade-long drought at its home event.

“They’re coming into our gym,” Pulice said of the Mules’ opponents. “Of course we’re not going to let them win on our court.”
Click here for box scores.
Click for complete stats: Penn State Abington match | Neumann match