Coming off of three flawless weekends of Ivy League play, the Penn volleyball team finds itself two games away from completing a perfect first half of its conference schedule.
All but two Ivy League teams have been victimized by the Quakers’ torrid start, but Cornell (6-11, 3-3 Ivy) and Columbia (11-7, 2-4) will visit the Palestra this weekend hoping to foil Penn’s attempt at a league sweep.
The Big Red will try to take down Penn (14-4, 5-0) tonight at 7 p.m., while the Lions await their turn at 4 p.m Saturday in the Dig Pink match.
Cornell’s stout defense will test the high-powered Quakers attack, which currently stands second in the conference with a .207 hitting percentage. The Big Red defense is led by Madeleine Przybyl and Juliana Rogers, who rank sixth and eighth in the Ivy League in blocks, respectively.
Despite this formidable challenge, the League-leading Quakers refuse to be intimidated.
“We’ve been preparing all week to deal with their block,” said junior setter Megan Tryon, who is masterfully leading the Penn offense with a League-high 11.22 assists per set. “Our hitters, especially, have been working on placement. We definitely have enough in our arsenal that they’re going to have a tough time handling us.”
Penn’s offense may not be Cornell’s only concern tonight. The Big Red have had severe problems away from home this year, entering tonight’s contest with an 0-4 record on the road.
The Quakers, on the other hand, return home after starting their conference schedule with five-straight road games. Coach Kerry Carr believes her team made the best of a brutal schedule.
“[The schedule] wasn’t in our control. If it was in my control, we wouldn’t have gone on the road the first three weekends,” she said.
“But this team is doing well regardless of where we are. Now that we’ve had more success on the road, we feel like we can win anywhere.”
A confident Red and Blue squad is the last thing the Lions want to see in tomorrow’s matchup. Columbia will take any luck it can get against a Penn team that it has only beaten once in 32 all-time meetings.
Carr, however, refuses to be overly confident and is careful not to underestimate the Lions.
“They have really good players. … We’re not looking past anybody in this league,” she said. “They’ve knocked off Cornell, they’ve knocked off Brown, so they’re definitely moving up.”
To keep from overlooking opponents like Columbia this season, the Quakers have seldom worried about the other half of the court. Each week, they focus on improving themselves.
“We improved this week, and that’s something you can’t always say about a team that’s winning,” Carr said. “We came to the gym, we worked hard, and we improved this week off of last week’s film. That’s how we are going to win this weekend.”
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