The Mules volleyball team found themselves off to a successful start to the year, winning their first six games, and sitting with a record of 6-2 after back to back losses during the Buttermaker Tournament. Since those two losses however, the team has been unstoppable, literally. The girls haven’t lost since the first week of September, rattling off 11 straight wins in their last 11 matches. The win streak is the team’s longest since a 13 game streak in 2013, and has their record up to a sparkling 17-2 overall. Two of those 17 wins also include Centennial Conference victories over Dickinson and Haverford.
It’s been amazing to have so much success in the beginning of our conference schedule and out of conference games – Tara Register
A vital component of the win streak has been the girls’ performance in crunch time. Of the eleven straight wins, four of them have come in a fifth, decisive, final set. While the girls have displayed their dominance over opponents they have also shown the ability to perform in clutch situations, with their backs against the wall. On Sept. 16, in back to back matches against Scranton and Stockton, the girls found themselves down 2-0 against each opponent. In both matches, the team then proceeded to take the next three sets, and the victory. Against Lebanon Valley this past Saturday, they battled back from an early points deficit in the fifth set to seal the victory by a set score of 3-2. The win over the Flying Dutchmen extended the streak to double digits, before rolling over Union College 3-0 to put the 11 game winning streak in the books. The squad’s performance in fifth and deciding sets has been superb thus far, as they are 4-1 in matches that have reached the final stanza. “Perseverance and commitment. We are a team that never seems to give up. We are relentless in our fight to win and we are committed to one another throughout the entire match,” Laura Boll ’20, said of the team’s continued success in the late stages of close matches.
Another big factor in the team’s success has been junior captain Shannon Hubert. On Sept. 25, she was named Centennial Conference Player of the Week for the third time in her college career. So far this year, Hubert leads the entire Centennial Conference, and is ranked 38th in all of Division III volleyball in assists per set with 9.91. Hubert also ranks fourth in Muhlenberg volleyball history in assists with a total of 2,275. In Centennial Conference play thus far, she has averaged over 11 assists per game, and over 10.5 during the week in which she won the award. “She’s come into this year focused and determined. She’s a strong leader for our team and sets high goals for herself, as well as the team,” eighth year Head Coach Alexa Keckler said of Hubert.
While the win streak has been an exceptional accomplishment, the team hasn’t let it go to their head. Rather, they are simply enjoying the success they’ve earned thus far, and hoping to use it as momentum going forward. “It’s been amazing to have so much success in the beginning of our conference schedule and out of conference games. Although our conference matches are extremely important, especially in such a competitive league, having success against strong non-conference opponents has just added to our overall confidence and has put us in a positive spot heading into the thick of conference play,” said Tara Register ’20.
The team will now shift its focus to their Centennial Conference. Of their remaining ten games, eight of them are in-conference matchups. Victories in these games will be crucial in the team making the Centennial Conference tournament, which the Mules fought their way into last year earning the #4 seed. While the squad would obviously love to continue the streak, their main goal is to take the remaining games one win at a time, and focus more on their opponents than the streak. “As exciting as an 11 game win streak is, we hit the important part of our schedule in the next three weeks. Hopefully what our success out of conference has taught us is that we can hang with the best in our conference no matter the situation we find ourselves in,” Coach Keckler said. Their next game is at home on October 4 versus Bryn Mawr, the team’s first conference matchup since their win over Dickinson back on September 23.