Since its early season matchup with Princeton on Sep. 30, 2005, Penn’s volleyball program has had 31 regular season victories against Ivy League opponents. Despite playing the Tigers seven times since then, none of those wins have come against the archrival.
Saturday night at Dillon Gym, the Quakers opened up their 2009 Ivy schedule by emphatically ending that trend, as they swept the Tigers 3-0.
After finishing 17-4 last season, Princeton (2-10, 0-1 Ivy) only returned two of its six starters from its 2008 second-place Ivy squad.
Penn coach Kerry Carr prepared her squad for the game as if it were against any other Ancient Eight opponent.
“This game was not such an emotional burden,” she said. “We knew we had more firepower, and our team, player for player, is a better team.”
Junior outside hitter Julia Swanson led the Penn attack with 17 kills, while freshman Lauren Martin joined her in double figures with 12 of her own on a team-high .524 hitting.
“Coming out and beating Princeton 3-0, it’s an amazing feeling; it’s very satisfying. I’m very happy.”
Senior co-captain Elizabeth Semmens only hit .167 with five kills, but relished her first career win against Princeton.
“We’re really excited, since for some of us, it’s been four years since we’ve beaten Princeton — it’s a big deal,” she said.
Penn (10-4, 1-0) came out relaxed in the raucous Princeton gym and decisively grabbed the first set 25-16 with a scorching .480 hitting percentage. Princeton raised its intensity and stormed out to a 6-3 advantage in the second.
The Quakers took a 17-16 lead on a kill by Martin, but the Tigers soon regrouped during a timeout and used a 3-0 run to even the set at 19. Penn proceeded to score six of the final eight points for a 25-21 victory.
“We believed that we could stop [their] run at any time,” Carr said. “We have a multifaceted attack and could utilize our defense, middle and right side at any time.”
Indeed, the Quakers’ offense spanned all three areas of the court. Swanson and Martin provided the punch from the outside and right side, respectively, while freshman Amanda Pacheco added seven kills from the middle. The Long Beach, Calif., native turned in the team’s second-best hitting clip at .462.
After one of its best pre-Ivy seasons in years, this weekend’s matchup against a struggling Princeton squad provided the perfect launching pad for the rest of Penn’s Ivy season.
Although Penn has only just begun its conference slate, the win — combined with its fast start — gives the players tremendous confidence moving forward.
“I think we can beat anyone,” Semmens declared.
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