The Muhlenberg Mules volleyball team hosted its annual Buttermaker Tournament. In addition to Muhlenberg, the other teams that played in the tournament were SUNY Cortland, Stevenson, Cabrini, Neumann and Virginia Wesleyan. Despite the fact that the Mules split wins on each day of the tournament, head volleyball coach Alexa Keckler was happy with how the Mules played over the course of these two days.
“I was pleased with all we were able to accomplish and discover this weekend. There were a lot of talented teams here which helped us to learn a little more about the we are now and the team we can be in the coming weeks,” Keckler said.
All three teams that Muhlenberg played in this tournament are out-of-conference opponents, so they’re not too familiar to this group of current players. Despite the rarity in opponent, the Mules were still excited to have the opportunity to play these teams. The Buttermaker Tournament is annually looked forward to by the volleyball team, and as such, these teams each offered a unique challenge to the Mules. Keckler noted how Cortland, Cabrini, and Virginia Wesleyan all made the team more prepared for when conference play begins soon.
“There were a lot of talented teams here which helped us to learn a little more about the we are now and the team we can be in the coming weeks”
“This tournament is a great way to push our abilities and discover what we are capable of as we head into conference play. It also gives us the opportunity to work out the kinks and see what we are made of,” said an excited head coach Keckler.
Because this tournament only occurs once a year, the Mules put in a great deal of work to find quality opponents to play. The tournament offers an opportunity for the Mules to play team’s they wouldn’t see otherwise during the typical schedule. Although the school resulted in bringing in competitive teams for this year’s event, it’s certainly not a quick or simple task. Keckler explained that it takes a diligent effort by Muhlenberg’s athletic administration in order to bring in such top-notch teams.
“It takes a lot of work on the back end to make this event successful. From the amazing staff who helps us set up the sport courts to the administration that supports all the teams, it truly takes a village. Our athletic training staff is here almost round the clock, our baseball team offers their help to work the matches and of course our sports information department who stats the matches and runs a live feed for our Muhlenberg fans to support from afar,” she explained.
On day one of the tournament, the Mules defeated SUNY Cortland handily in three sets, then battled against Stevenson to the decisive set before finally falling in the fifth set. Day two saw Cabrini sweep the Mules in the first match. But the Mules fought back in their last game of the tournament, defeating Virginia Wesleyan three sets to one. Although both wins by the Mules were impressive, head coach Keckler especially was proud of the team for its contest against the top-ranked Stevenson squad.
“I think my favorite part from this year was to see our team, with no seniors, take a historically dominant team with many upperclassmen to five sets. It says a lot about our talent and all that we can accomplish,” she said.
Now that this highly anticipated tournament has come to its conclusion, the Mules will move on the heat of the season. The tournament was a great start to season, but there is much more to come over the next two months. Keckler sees much room for improvement in this team.
“We must be in better physical shape to outlast the tougher teams. We also saw how deep our team is…every member played at some point this weekend and every member contributed to the success we were able to have on the court, that is pretty amazing.”