The Muhlenberg Volleyball team has started the season at a remarkable 10-2 clip, despite not having a single senior on this year’s team. Any team in any sport lacking a senior can cause a struggle to find players to take on a leadership role, however the volleyball team has three captains who have stepped up.
Head Coach Alexa Keckler exclaims that captains Shannon Hubert 19’, Kelly Tornetta 19’ and Maggie Enestvedt 20’ “have done an excellent job driving our team.” All three captains have made the All-Centennial Conference first or second teams at one point in their Muhlenberg careers and each are at the top of the leaderboards in many major statistical categories in the Centennial categories. Each captain has picked up where they have left off on the court last year, but most importantly they are directing the team with their leadership abilities.
Coach Keckler enters her eighth season as the Mules head coach and she explains that she has never coached a team without any seniors and acknowledges that this is an unusual scenario.
“We have had three seasons with two or three seniors but never zero. Although not having seniors is unusual, our team has done such a great job of maturing on the court and working together.”
In Coach Keckler’s first seven seasons as a head coach, the Mules have made the Centennial Conference playoffs three times, including a trip to the second round last year and two runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2014.
“I believe it is helpful in keeping the winning tradition going and allowing us not to endure a rebuilding season.” – Coach Keckler
Although this year’s squad faces an unusual situation, their chemistry, team-work and comradery will enable them to compete for another Centennial Conference Tournament bid and hopefully reach their ultimate goal, winning the Conference Championship.
Keckler also believes that this seniorless season will have an impact on the future of the program.
“I believe it is helpful in keeping the winning tradition going and allowing us not to endure a rebuilding season.”
By winning all four of their games in the Battlefield Classic and winning two games at the Buttermaker Tournament, this season has looked like anything but a rebuilding year. This past Saturday, the Mules played both the University of Scranton and Stockton University at Memorial Hall and faced adversity in both of their games.
In their first game against an undefeated Scranton squad it looked like Scranton would remain undefeated as they took the first two sets, including a 25-11 route in the second set. However, the Mules came out firing in the third set by taking an early 10-3 lead and ultimately winning the set 25-22. In the fourth set the Mules completely dominated winning 25-14, that was highlighted by a 7-0 run that included three aces by Tornetta. The Mules won the fifth and final set 15-12, to cap off a spectacular comeback win and hand Scranton their first loss of the season.
In the second game against Stockton the Mules, much like in their first match, lost the first two sets of the game. Once again, the Mules showed resilience as they won the third set 25-22, won a thrilling back and forth fourth set 28-26 and won the fifth set 15-12 to win their second come from behind game of the day.
Coach Keckler reflected on the play of the team’s leaders during these two wins and stated that their play influenced the rest of the team. “When the leaders stepped up their play yesterday it was like wildfire. All the members of the team jumped on board and worked hard to achieve the wins. It was an awesome day for our team and program.”
The team looks to carry their momentum into conference play as they face Haverford on September 20th. Keckler has high expectations for her captains as the team heads into conference play and continues their quest to reach the Centennial Conference playoffs and capture a conference crown. “We are expecting them to lead in scoring and relentless pursuit. Their actions always speak louder than their words. If they do their jobs it inspires others on the team to follow suit.”
With Hubert, Tornetta, and Enestvedt leading the Mules with their talent and astounding leadership, the Mules should be a top contender in the Centennial Conference despite not having a single senior on the roster.