HAVERFORD, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall survived Muhlenberg and dropped the Mules 3-2 (19-25, 25-15, 25-10, 20-25, 15-12) to win the Centennial Conference (CC) Volleyball Championship on Sunday afternoon at Haverford.
This is the Diplomats' first CC Crown since F&M defeated Swarthmore back in 2010, and the sixth Title in program history. The Diplomats (21-11) are the first No. 5 seed to ever win the volleyball conference tournament.
With the match tied at 2-2, the decisive fifth set started with a kill by Muhlenberg's Sarah Weyhmuller. However, back-to-back kills from Julie Harvey and Ellie Ezekiel gave the lead back to F&M at 2-1. From there, the Diplomats built the lead to 6-3 after another Ezekiel kill.
F&M increased the advantage to 9-5, but Muhlenberg came to within two at 12-10 after a Diplomats' attack error. Then, Harvey and Ezekiel once again stepped up and notched back-to-back kills to increase F&M's lead to 14-10.
After a Mules' timeout, Muhlenberg scored two straight to cut the lead to 14-12, but Harvey rocketed a kill to win the set (15-12) and the match (3-2) and give the Diplomats the CC Crown.
Muhlenberg took the opening set at 25-19, but in the second set, F&M jumped out to a 10-4 advantage and later increased the lead to 19-9 off a Rachel Umberger kill. The Diplomats took the second set at 25-15 to tie the contest at 1-1.
The third was much like the second, as F&M started out the set winning seven straight points. The set was never close, as the Diplomats won it with ease at 25-10 to go up 2-1 in the match.
With the Mules up 9-8 in the fourth, the teams traded points back and forth until Muhlenberg scored three straight for the 19-14 lead. F&M was unable to recover, as the Mules won the fourth set 25-20 to force the fifth set where the Diplomats came out on top.
Ezekiel was stellar for F&M with a career-high 24 kills, while adding seven block assists. Umberger finished with 12 kills, while Harvey recorded 10. Alyssa Sanchez added 21 digs and Shae Murphy 16, while Cassie Garison was strong in front of the net with seven block assists.
Caroline Hubbard finished with 50 assists and 15 digs for the double-double, and for her efforts, the senior was named Tournament MVP.
The Diplomats now wait for the NCAA DIII Selection Show to see who and where F&M will be playing starting on Nov. 14. The NCAA Selection Show begins tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.