By Jamie Belfer || Layout Assistant
The Franklin & Marshall volleyball team had a tremendous 2018 season. They went 10-0 in the Centennial Conference and had a 23-6 record in the regular season to earn the number one seed in the Centennial Conference Tournament. Several players earned Centennial Conference and All-Region awards for their outstanding performance throughout the season.
Sophomore Grace Maggiore was named the Centennial Conference player of the year and was named to the All-Region team and the CC first team. Freshman Allison Franke was named Centennial Conference and All-Region rookie of the year, and was named to the All-Region team and the CC first team. Senior Barbara Kapustin was named to the CC second team. Junior Grace Polisano received Honorable Mention. In her sixteenth season as coach for Franklin & Marshall, Coach Salko was named both Mid-Atlantic Region and CC coach of the year.
While the Diplomats unfortunately fell to McDaniel in the semifinals of the Centennial Conference playoffs, their strong regular season play earned them a spot in the NCAA Division III volleyball tournament. In the first round of 64 teams, F&M faced off against SUNY New Paltz on Friday, November 9.
The Diplomats stayed neck and neck with the New Paltz Hawks in the first set. After falling behind 0-3, a service error and three consecutive kills from Allison Franke put the Diplomats up 4-3. After the Hawks tied the game up 10-10, New Paltz took the lead with 2 service aces by Taylor Cimillo. With some great kills and sets by Franke, Maggiore, Grace Polisano, and Lydia Budd, the Diplomats were able to tie the game up at 15-15 and eventually take a 17-16 lead. After tying the game up 19-19, the Hawks finished the set with a ferocious 5-0 run, ultimately defeating the Diplomats 25-20 with a kill by Kerri Neville.
The Diplomats jumped out to a 10-6 lead in the second set with the help of three kills from Barbara Kapustin, all set by Maggiore. The Diplomats maintained a 2-3 point lead throughout the middle of the set. However, the Hawks were able to tie the game up at 19-19. The Hawks took their first lead of the game on a kill by Meredith Dignan. The Diplomats fought back with the help of two kills by Polisano, tying the game up at 25-25. The Hawks were able to win the second set 28-26 on a service ace.
Both the Hawks and Diplomats kept within four points of the opposing team throughout the entire third and final set. F&M fell behind 3-4, but battled back with kills from Kapustin, Polisano, Casey Marrow, and a service ace from Delaney Hahn to take a 12-11 lead. The Diplomats took their largest lead of the set (19-15) after two kills from Franke. What seemed like a game in the Diplomats’ control, the Hawks showed their grit and rallied back to tie the game at 22 apiece. The Hawks finished the game off and defeated the Diplomats 25-22.
Although the Diplomats hopes to advance in the NCAA tournament were staunched by New Paltz, their future looks bright. While F&M’s two fantastic and impactful seniors, Barbara Kapustin and Lydia Budd, are graduating, the returning Diplomats will look to dominate the 2019 regular and postseason.
First-Year Jamie Belfer is a Layout Assistant, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org