ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall was edged out by Muhlenberg 3-2 (22-25, 25-11, 25-19, 21-25, 15-13) in a thrilling Centennial Conference (CC) volleyball opener. The Diplomat slipped to 7-4, 0-1 CC, while the Mules improved to 11-2, 1-0 CC.
The first set was close as F&M led 13-9 midway through. However, Muhlenberg scored six of the next eight points to tie the set at 15-15. The Diplomats regained the lead at 18-17 and increased the lead off a Julie Harvey kill that made it 19-17. From there, the Mules were unable to get to within two points the rest of the set as F&M took the first 25-22.
Muhlenberg got off to a hot start in the second, scoring 13 of the first 15 points for a 13-2 advantage. The Mules continued to dominant the set and eventually won 25-11 to knot the match at 1-1.
The third was close in the early going, as the set was tied at 8-8. But, Muhlenberg responded with a 6-1 spurt to take a 14-9 advantage. Throughout the rest of the third, the Mules maintained at least a four-point lead en route to the 25-19 third-set victory and 2-1 lead in the match.
Needing to win the fourth set to force a decisive fifth, the Diplomats came out on fire, leading 7-2 early. F&M increased the lead in the middle of the set at 13-5 after a ball handling error by Muhlenberg. The Mules, however, would not go quietly as a service error made the score 18-14 in favor of the Diplomats. But, a Caroline Hubbard service error increased F&M's lead 19-14 and the Diplomats won the fourth 25-21.
To begin the fifth, Muhlenberg scored the first four points to take a 4-0 lead. However, F&M battled back and came to within three at 8-5. After the Mules increased the lead to 13-8, the Diplomats rattled off four straight to get to within one point at 13-12. But, Muhlenberg scored two of the next three points to clinch the set (15-13) and the match (3-2).
The Diplomats return to action on Friday when F&M battles Salisbury (6:00 p.m.) and Cortland St. (8:00 p.m.) at the ASICS Invitational hosted by Juniata.