FORTVILLE — There are few things Victoria and Jaclyn Bulmahn haven’t done together, which is normal for sisters growing up just three years apart.
However, there’s one passion they haven’t enjoyed as one: playing on the same volleyball team. Through all the points, sets, dramatic victories and heartbreaking defeats, the two had yet to play a single match together — until this season.
Maybe their parents can finally save a little money on gas.
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Although it has worked out for their father, Eric Bulmahn, who is in his third season as Mt. Vernon’s head coach, he honestly didn’t expect them to play together this year.
Victoria, 15, has come on faster than expected in her rookie campaign after training with the varsity during the summer, according to Eric, and has been a reliable addition to the team. She has collected 119 kills, 137 digs and 197 assists this season.
Jaclyn, 18, leads the Marauders (25-7) in kills with 407 in her final season. She passed 1,500 career kills earlier this season, which is a program record.
“It’s been fun to play with Victoria and just be on the court together,” Jaclyn said. “Since we play different positions, I think she is her own player when it comes to setting but has asked me questions about hitting. She picked up on hitting very fast, and we are grateful for that.
“We can put her anywhere we need her.”
Also different are their personalities. Surprisingly, Jaclyn, despite her powerful swing, is the shy one. Victoria, according to Eric, has always been more outgoing and was easier to “break out of her shell.”
Physically long and lanky with skills as pure as their volleyball pedigrees, the Bulmahn sisters were born for this sport. Both their parents played in college — Eric at Ball State and Monica at IUPUI.
In fact, the two met while in school. Even more interesting, Eric’s roommate in college is Allison Dennemann’s father, Brett Dennemann. Allison, a junior, plays at New Palestine and led Hancock County with 580 kills this season. Eric introduced Brett to his future wife, Kristen, who played volleyball at Butler.
“I was the best man in (Brett’s) wedding and have known (Allison) her whole life,” Eric said.
The school record books might share a similar relationship with the Bulmahns. According to Eric, Jaclyn and Victoria aren’t even the most athletic girls in their family. Cecilia, the youngest Bulmahn sister, is a seventh grader.
“We will have to see what her height tops out at, but she is the most aggressive one I have,” Eric said. “We are all slow growers; we know there is a five-inch growth spurt coming. Victoria is in the middle of hers now.”
In addition to coaching at Mt. Vernon, Eric serves as the Club Director at Vision Volleyball Club. His knowledge has served his daughters and Mt. Vernon well as he’s compiled a 78-21 record at the school, including a sectional title last year.
This season the Marauders have hovered in the top-10 in the state among all classes, according to the Z-Ratings, and currently are ranked No. 10. Compiling a 25-7 record has been impressive, as well, as the team boasts the ninth toughest schedule in the state.
He’s hoping it will help as they enter a tough Greenfield-Central Sectional. A fourth date with the host Cougars awaits the Marauders on Saturday. The two teams also met four times last year.
Mt. Vernon won the final meeting last season in the sectional championship (3-2), but Greenfield-Central recently won (2-1) at the county meet earlier this month. The Marauders took out some anger by beating New Palestine, which has spent time in the top-10 in Class 3A, a few days later.
“Hancock County volleyball has a lot to be proud of,” Eric said. “We know (Greenfield-Central) probably knows us a little too well. Hopefully, by us playing a tough schedule, it will have us prepared to come back out and get after it. I know the county loss was a wake-up call.”
To repeat, Mt. Vernon will need all hands on deck. Senior Julia Wayer paces a strong Marauders defense with 524 digs this season. She also surpassed 1,500 for her career — another school record.
Sophomore Grace Hurst has been another defensive specialist in the back row and has 290 digs, while senior Ashton Barr has played a do-it-all role. Barr leads the team in assists (442) and is second with 287 kills.
Bulmahn and Barr can hold their own in the back, too, and totaled 263 and 234 digs, respectively, while senior Kari Kramer leads the team with 90 blocks.
“It probably all starts with club, we cross train positions,” Eric said. “If someone is sicks on a key date, someone can step in. We focus on being able to play different positions. We can match up and make changes if we need to.”
Jaclyn, who also has registered 40 blocks and 30 aces, will continue her playing career at Division-I Valparaiso University next season. She also considered Bowling Green, Western Kentucky, IPFW and Illinois State but was drawn to Valparaiso for its location — not too close but not too far — and it’s beach volleyball team, which she enjoyed watching this summer during the Olympics.
“It’s a really great program, and the coaches and players were really nice,” she said.
Victoria hopes to become the fourth member of her family to play at the next level, following her big sister’s footsteps — even if it’s not on the same team.
“It’s definitely been different (playing with her) but Jaclyn has been a great role model to look up to,” Victoria said. “I definitely would like to play in college.”
– 407 kills
– 263 digs
– 40 blocks
– 30 aces
– 197 assists
– 137 digs
– 119 kills
– 9 blocks