On Sunday night the Muhlenberg volleyball team landed and taxied to their gate at Philadelphia International Airport. Trekking their luggage through the terminal the squad was about to return to campus after a trip which had been the first of its kind for many of the athletes on the team.
“The trip to Minnesota was a great experience,” said Laura Boll ‘20, who has established herself at the service line and at the net this season. During the Mules’ time in Minnesota the team played matches in St. Paul against St. Thomas College and in Arden Hills against St. Olaf College and Bethel University. “The competition was tough, with us only winning one of our games but the team is not disappointed in how we played.”
The trip had a bit more mean- ing for one of the Mules. Maggie Enestvedt ‘20 was able to experience a homecoming, as she is the lone Mules volleyball player from Minnesota. The match against St. Thomas, in twin city St. Paul, was in her hometown. “It was really fun to go back to my home state to play and to show my teammates around,” said Enestvedt, who is a dominant outside hitter for the 2018 squad but doubled as team tour guide while the program spent time out on the town.
The unique experience provided plenty of memories the women will hold on to for a long time.
Touring U.S. Bank Stadium – the state-of-the-art home of the Minnesota Vikings opened in 2016 – was a highlight for Boll. “On our private tour we were able to run around on the field venture into the private rooms and clubs and explore the Vi- king’s locker room.”
Enesdvet said, “It’s great to spend time together off campus and do new things like go kart racing, tour the vikings stadium and explore new places to eat,” Although first year head coach Amanda Krampf did not plan the matches the Mules would play in during the team’s travels she enjoyed planning out the off-court team bonding activities her team participated in when they weren’t in the gym too.
On the court the Mules had no reason to step on their departing flight disappointed. Despite going 1-2, they playing two games to a decisive fifth set against three opponents who entered the matches with a combined record of 40-11. “The teams we saw in Minnesota were strong all around. We had to fight for every point,” said Krampf. “The trip was great preparation for the remainder of the season,” added Krampf.
Enestvedt commented on the opportunity to play new teams, but see some familiar faces. “It’s always fun to play new teams, and I was lucky enough to know some of the student-athletes on the teams we played from my high school and club teams back home.” Boll agreed, explaining much the team has grown since her time at Muhlenberg, “I think that this weekend, facing teams we’ve never seen before, was a strong indicator with how far we’ve come.”
The remainder of the season Krampf spoke of is critical for the Mules, who can not afford to let any games slip away in a loaded 2018 Centennial Conference. The high level of competition in the Midwest emulates much of what the Mules will return home to. Two undefeated teams still remain atop the league (Franklin & Marshall and Johns Hopkins are 4-0) and the Mules are one of four teams with only one loss (Gettysburg, McDaniel, and Swarthmore are all 3-1). Even with a 2-1 record in conference play Muhlenberg find them- selves sixth in the strong Centennial. Out of the six top teams the Mules have only played Franklin & Marshall thus far, losing three sets to one.
Krampf remains confident. “I think as a team we learned a lot about where our current strengths are. We were also able to focus on what we need to improve heading into the remainder of our conference schedule.”
Johns Hopkins rolls into Allentown on Saturday Oct. 6th where a Mules upset can go a long way into determining the the Centennial Conference play- off picture.