After an exciting season with many victories, much practice, hard work and even qualifying for the Centennial Conference playoffs, the 2023 Muhlenberg volleyball season has come to a strong close. Since starting their season in Fredericksburg, Va., against Marymount College in early September, the Mules have been training and playing hard, competing against extremely solid teams and totaling 14 wins for the season.
In a competitive start to the season, Muhlenberg won their first game and kicked the year off right. One of the team’s captains, Rachel Jacobs ‘25, reflects on the game as a highlight of the season. “My favorite memory from this season was our overnight in Virginia. We played two really reputable teams and considering that they were our season openers, we showed up and played really well. All of us had so much fun playing together for the first time this season.”
Shortly after their opening games, Muhlenberg volleyball competed in the Buttermaker Tournament. The tournament was a great accomplishment for the team, who won three out of four of their games there. It brought on early success in the season and led the Mules to set themselves up for coming weeks of triumph.
As the season progressed, the team continued to produce many wins and demonstrate all of the time they spent on the court preparing for the season. Over the summer, volleyball athletes arrived on campus earlier than most other students and earlier than in past seasons. It helped them to achieve a head start on their training which was evident once the season came forward. Beginning training early allowed the Mules to jump into the season right away and to spend time early focusing on communication, drills and scrimmages, as Jacobs describes. “We started with some individual skills drills but I think doing team scrimmages and drills so early really helped our communication. We had a really young team this season with five freshmen so starting to scrimmage early helped them jump into the pace of college volleyball.”
Muhlenberg also benefited from their ability to apply what they worked on in practice. Their ambition, positive attitude and attention to detail went a long way toward the success of the team. Captain Julia Ficon ‘24 explained, “This season we placed a huge emphasis on implementing what we practice into games. We were much more intentional in how we wanted practices to transfer into games this season. Having said that, we had a great group this year that came into the gym every day and wanted to work hard.”
These aspects of the team’s process in games and practice were displayed clearly in their recent game against Dickinson. The team not only won this game regardless of their strong competitors, but they also qualified for the conference playoffs through this win, which Ficon noted that, “My favorite memory of the year would definitely be beating Dickinson at Dickinson as that game was essentially a playoff game and allowed us to make our second playoff run in a row.”
After the playoff game against Franklin & Marshall, Muhlenberg is looking forward to upcoming seasons and to see what is to come for the program in future years. The team hopes to continue to improve their communication, effort in practice and roster size in seasons to follow. “Next season, we are hoping to bring in another big freshmen class, and having as many young players as we did this year, if not more, is really beneficial for developing the team for the years to come. The freshmen this year showed so much promise that next year, we should come back stronger. I am really looking forward to our spring season next semester to focus on individual skills and goals that we can apply in the fall,” Jacobs said, staying optimistic and ready for more successful seasons to come.