Franklin & Marshall battled its way to a strong showing in 2016, finishing the season with a record of 19-9, 7-3 CC, and appearing in the Centennial Conference (CC) Playoffs. The Diplomats have now posted winning seasons in seven of the past eight years, and reached the CC Tournament in each of its last nine campaigns.
To watch a highlight video of the 2016 season, click here.
F&M raced out of the gate early in the season, cruising to four consecutive 3-0 sweeps to start the year, before adding two more 3-0 victories on Sept. 10 to push the team's record to 7-0.
The middle of September saw F&M square off with several nationally ranked teams, including perennial powerhouses Eastern and Carnegie Mellon, but the Diplomats got back on track with three straight conference wins.
A solid run through the conference in October, including wins over Gettysburg and Dickinson in the last week of the season, gave F&M a stellar 7-3 conference record and a birth in the CC Playoffs as the No. 5 seed.
The Diplomats' run came to an end in the CC First Round, falling to Muhlenberg 3-0 on Nov. 2.
F&M finished the season near the top of the Centennial in several statistical categories, ranking second in kills per set (12.63), assists per set (11.90), and digs per set (17.94).
Individually, Allison Edelstein led the Diplomats with the conference's highest assists per set average at 10.28, ranking 21st in the nation. The senior setter also placed third in the CC for service aces per set at 0.51.
Ellie Ezekiel solidified her place as one of the Centennial's top hitters, tallying the second-highest kill total (340) and kills per set average (3.62) in the CC. The 2016 season saw Ezekiel eclipse 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs, making her one of just seven Diplomats to ever reach both milestones, and one of just two players in the 1,000/1,000 club to add 100 blocks and 100 service aces.
Senior libero Mary Leneweaver paced the defense on the year, finishing the season ranked fourth in the Centennial in total digs with 469 and fifth in digs per set at 4.84. With a 28-dig effort in a 3-2 road victory over Washington on Oct. 22, Leneweaver became the 18th player in program history to reach 1,000 digs.
For their efforts, Ezekiel, Edelstein, and Leneweaver earned All-Centennial Conference recognition. Edelstein and Leneweaver both earned Honorable Mention status in their first appearance on the all-conference squad, while Ezekiel made her fourth appearance and was named to the First Team for the second consecutive year. Ezekiel went on to garner All-ECAC South Second Team honors, and graduates as one of just seven Diplomats (five in the Centennial era) to be named all-conference four times.
It was a year of milestones for head coach Mary Kate Salko as well, who in her 14th season at the helm of F&M became the program's all-time winningest coach. A 3-0 victory over Scranton on Sept.7 gave her career win No. 252, surpassing Steve Coulson's previous mark of 251.