ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Fifth-seeded Franklin & Marshall fell just short in three consecutive sets to drop a 3-0 decision to No. 4 Muhlenberg on Wednesday night in the first round of the Centennial Conference (CC) Volleyball Tournament. The Diplomats finish the season with a 19-9 record after the defeat, while the Mules improved their record to 20-10 and moved into Saturday's semifinal against No. 1 Johns Hopkins.
Down 23-15 in the third set and 2-0 in the match, F&M was on the cusp of quietly dropping a third straight set in its CC First Round match. However, Grace Polisano served the Diplomats to a 23-23 tie after Ellie Ezekiel, Cassie Garison, and Polisano tallied kills to fuel the 8-0 run. Ultimately, Muhlenberg did recover and rallied for the final two points of the set to take a 25-23 win in the clinching third set.
The tight finish reflected a close match throughout, beginning with a 25-20 victory for the Mules in the first set. Tied at 10-10 after kills from Garison and Polisano, Muhlenberg took a slim 12-10 lead on a kill from Allison Glass. That deficit never grew larger than five, but the Diplomats were unable to fully erase the gap as the hosts took the opener.
The Mules took care of business early in the second, jumping out to a 15-6 advantage. An ace from Sarah Landry cut the lead to 21-17, but Muhlenberg again held on to carry a 2-0 edge into the third.
Ezekiel tallied 10 kills in her final collegiate match to lead the offense, while Polisano and Garison recorded eight each. Allison Edelstein dished out 28 assists in the effort.
The loss ends a 2016-17 campaign that saw the Diplomats post a 19-9 record, a consistent regional ranking, and a ninth-straight appearance in the CC Tournament.