In what was a successful tournament, the Muhlenberg volleyball team (5-3) went 3-1 over two days. With COVID-19 limiting all sports over the past year, the team was finally able to have their tournament experience.
“This tournament experience is so valuable for not only our first-year players but our sophomores as well because we were only able to play two exhibition games last year,” said second-year head coach Rob McVicker. “The tournament format provides the ability to face a variety of opponents and grow as individuals and as a team.”
The Buttermaker tournament will go a long way in helping not only new arrivals to the team, but those who have missed being on the court. “It was difficult for me to miss our season last year because volleyball has a tremendous impact on my physical and mental health, so I am extremely grateful to be back in the gym with the team,” said Emma Eglinton ‘23.
Alyssa Faville ‘24, like many of her teammates, is relieved to be able to have practices back. “Since there were so many restrictions because of COVID last season we were unable to have a regular year, so being able to fully practice and compete in matches this year is super exciting, especially with the team we have this year,” she said.
It was also the first collegiate tournament experience for Jenna Stockfeder ‘25 and Brooke Shiver ‘25. “I was very excited about playing in the Buttermaker Tournament. It was great to get out there and compete,” said Stockfeder. Shiver, her fellow teammate and middle blocker, shares that same sentiment. “Playing collegiate volleyball has been a goal of mine for a long time, and I was excited my first tournament was at home with everyone here to cheer us on,” Shiver said.
The tournament has afforded the team a great opportunity to build on top of the chemistry already there. “I think that this weekend we really started to get to know each other on the court—figuring out how to communicate and getting to know our individual playing styles,” said Eglinton. “I hope we can continue to build on this foundation so that we’ll really hit our stride once we get into conference play.”
This weekend the Mules showed their potential and showcased their great rhythm during the Buttermaker Tournament, something that did not go unnoticed. “The biggest takeaway [from] this weekend is the growth that has been shown from week one to week two,” he said. “I am very excited about the potential of the team if we can continue to improve as we have already,” said McVicker.
Their coach wasn’t the only one who noticed this improvement. “There were certain moments and even entire sets where I could feel the team click, and we were able to execute a lot of great plays together. As the season progresses, our challenge will be to consistently play at a high level. I think we’ll be able to do this as we become more confident and comfortable playing with each other,” said Eglinton.
Megan Ray ‘22, who was named to the all-tournament team, feels that the group is moving in a great direction. “The biggest takeaway for me from the tournament was that we are capable of greatness,” she said. “We just need to focus and trust one another on and off the court.”
Ray also feels that, like all sports, not everyone is in sync. “We played and executed our game plan well in some moments. However, in other moments it didn’t go so well,” she said. “But that’s how sports are. We can always try to be more consistent as a team.”
The team has time to improve in practice and showed what they are capable of throughout the tournament. “I think that the team had an overall good tournament going 3-1 on the weekend. The biggest thing I noticed while playing was how excited everyone was for each other and how well we all played together as a team,” said Faville.
Faville shares, “The biggest takeaway from this tournament for the rest of the season is focusing more on the positive parts of the games rather than the negative, but also being able to fix any errors,” she said. “If we continue to play how we did in most of our matches this weekend, we will have a very good rest of the season.”
There’s only room to get better, and it was clear that this team is committed to being the best. “We’re just going to keep getting better throughout the season. This isn’t a team that gives up,” said Shiver. “We’ve got a few weeks before conference games start, and we’re going to put in the work to be ready. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this season and the next four years playing for the Mules.” The Mules look to build upon their tournament success on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at Scranton.