A historic, record breaking season. A 13 game win streak. A Centennial Conference tournament berth. It all came to a disappointing end for the Mules on Sunday, Nov. 5, with a loss to Swarthmore in the Centennial Conference Tournament semifinal. However, the girls’ season did not end without a gutsy fight.
“We put a lot of hard work in to our season and although we did not win a championship we are really proud of ending 24-6 and clinching a regional ranking.” – Shannon Hubert ’19
In the semifinal match the squad found itself facing match point on two separate occasions, in two different sets. And twice, the girls found a way back, and stayed alive. Down a point in the third set and facing a sweep, three consecutive kills from the Mules sent the match to a fourth set. The ensuing fourth set was one for the history books. Deadlocked at 19 points apiece, the Mules and Garnet exchanged points back and forth, running the score up to 27 for each squad. Every time one of the team’s gained a point advantage, the other would answer to tie the game. The Mules served with the opportunity to force a fifth and deciding set three separate times, but each time the Garnet fought them off to keep the set alive. The Garnet also served for the match at 27-26, but the girls fought back from match point yet again to deadlock the score at 27. After that, Swarthmore finally took back to back points, ending the game, the match and the Mules season. The 29-27 loss was crushing for the team, as all year long the girls have relied on their ability to come back from early deficits, and perform during the most important points. While their luck in crunch time finally ran out on Sunday, the girls held their heads high, proud of their valiant effort.
“We put a lot of hard work in to our season and although we did not win a championship we are really proud of ending 24-6 and clinching a regional ranking. Next year we are looking forward on continuing to work hard and hopefully make Muhlenberg volleyball history and win a conference championship,” junior caption Shannon Hubert said. Hubert recorded 46 assists in the match, making her the second player in Muhlenberg volleyball history to record 1,000 career assists.
Despite the disappointing end, this season was one to be remembered for a long time, as well as one to build on for next year. From Sept. 9 to Oct. 4, the Mules simply did not lose. They were dominant, compiling one victory after another, their win streak eventually reaching 12 before their next loss, one shy of the school volleyball record. The girls came into this season a young, unproven team, and ended it with a national attention in the rankings for Division III volleyball.
And though this year is now over, there is an abundance of promise for the 2018 season. The girls team is impressively young for their talent level, without a single senior on this year’s roster. The Mules will return every player next year, a rarity in college athletics. Given the success the team had this year with such young talent, it is exciting the think about where this team will be in a year. They will be hoping to return more polished, talented and ready to compete for the Centennial Conference title, something that eluded them by just two victories this year. “While we would have loved to win our semifinal match, we had such a great season and I am so proud of everything we accomplished as a team. I don’t think we have anything to hang our heads about and I look forward to seeing what we will do next year,” sophomore Tara Register said.