Volleyball Soars into Championship Match

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Football Wrestling

Because the Muhlenberg volleyball team ran out of substitutions, it had to play the last few points of the first set of its Centennial Conference semifinal match against McDaniel with junior middle Sarah Weyhmuller in the back row and freshman defensive specialist Elizabeth Garrison in the front row as a hitter.

Sarah Weyhumuller And because the Mules were successful playing with that less-than-ideal lineup, the whole team finds itself in an unfamiliar position: playing for the Centennial Conference championship.

Muhlenberg defeated McDaniel in four sets to reach the CC final for the first time since 2001. The second-seeded Mules (20-11) will face fourth-seeded Johns Hopkins for the title on Sunday at 1:00. The Blue Jays stunned host Franklin & Marshall, which went through the CC regular season undefeated, in four sets.

The first set between the two playoff newcomers was incredibly tight, with 17 ties and neither team able to build a lead of more than two points. With so many rotations, Muhlenberg had utilized all of its allotted subs with the score 24-23.

“I went over to the sub line, and they said, stay in, you’re serving,” said Weyhmuller (right), who had not served in a conference match all season. “Then I had to play defense when they were swinging, and of course they hit it to me.”

Weyhmuller dug the attack attempt, but the Green Terror (19-7) wound up winning the point to tie the set at 24. On McDaniel’s serve, the Mules hid Weyhmuller in the corner and passed the ball up to sophomore setter Vanessa Pulice, who found a hole in the defense on a second-ball attack to put Muhlenberg up 25-24.

Sophomore Joanne Josephson finally ended the thrilling set with one of her nine kills.

The three other sets didn’t match the first in intensity. McDaniel jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the second and went on to win, 25-18, to tie the match.

Katherine Boll, Allison Glass
Boll (left) and Glass combine on one of the Mules' eight blocks.
“I think what the problem was was that we weren’t communicating,” said Weyhmuller. “We weren’t passing well and we were being really passive with our hits. After that we knew we had to swing hard and let them make the mistakes.”

It worked. The Mules trailed only once (1-0 in the fourth) in the remaining two sets. They opened up an 11-5 lead en route to a 25-18 win in the third and made only two attack errors in the fourth. The Green Terror cut a 20-12 deficit to 23-19, but kills by sophomore Katherine Boll and Josephson ended the match and gave Muhlenberg its first 20-win season in 12 years.

Boll hit .381 and led a balanced attack with 11 kills. Junior Lindsey Gambocurta added 10, Josephson and Weyhmuller had nine apiece, and freshman Allison Glass and sophomore Erin Murphy contributed eight and seven, respectively. Pulice recorded 23 assists, one fewer than junior Nikki Dickson, and served three aces. Sophomore Chelsea Kaser paced the defense with 14 digs.

While the Mules while be looking for their first title, Johns Hopkins (13-12) is the two-time defending champion. The Blue Jays won in three sets when the two teams played in late September.

“I think they’re going to be a different team because we’re basically a different team than we were that early in the season,” said Weyhmuller.

“We deserve to be here,” she added. “Everyone worked so hard for this. We’ve been busting our butts all season, and I hope tomorrow we can come out the same way.”
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