The lesson that winning isn’t everything was one that the volleyball team learned this weekend in its trip to California.
Penn entered its four-match tournament not concerned about wins and losses but focused on correcting its weaknesses before Ivy play kicks into full gear in two weeks.
The Quakers dropped their first three matches 3-0 to California State, Fullerton; California, Los Angeles; and Liberty before rebounding to earn a 3-0 victory over West Virginia.
The weekend got off to a slow start as the Red and Blue (4-6) fell hard against Cal State Fullerton (10-3).
“When we started out with the first match, I was a little bit concerned because we didn’t show the improvement we had from the last weekend,” said coach Kerry Carr.
Yet they quickly bounced back and held their own against volleyball powerhouse UCLA — the No. 13 ranked team in the country.
“We had a rough morning, so we all wanted to kind of prove ourselves again and prove that we could play better,” senior setter Megan Tryon said.
Though the Quakers fell to UCLA in three sets, they did not let the Bruins gain that victory easily, going 22-25 in the first set and 21-25 in the second before eventually falling 11-25 in the final set.
“It was great to battle them all the way up to point 25,” Carr said. “We were in the match, and they couldn’t pull their starters, so it was really a great performance from our players,”
Outside hitter Julia Swanson agreed that the Quakers were competitive throughout the match but thought they could have earned a better result.
“We were really competitive, and I really think we could’ve taken a set off of them,” the senior said. “I think just some points didn’t go our way, and so we didn’t [take a set], but I think we definitely could have.”
Had it not been for trouble toward the end of the match, when Penn made a couple of costly mistakes, the Quakers could have made that goal a reality.
“We made an error, they made a great play and then all of a sudden we were behind by three, and that was the game,” Carr said.
That the Red and Blue showed the ability to keep up with such a competitive team shows that Carr’s strategy of having a difficult non-conference schedule may be working.
Especially since Penncontinued to show signs of improvement throughout the weekend.
Though they fell in three sets to Liberty Saturday morning, later that day, the Quakers came back to sweep a West Virginia squad that had defeated Liberty only the day before.
Though the team’s record may not be as impressive as its record last year at the same point in the season (8-2), Swanson believes that it is the result of a more competitive schedule and is something that the team expected.
“Although we aren’t getting wins, our preseason is much harder, our schedule is much harder than any of the other Ivies, and we’re getting close to more difficult teams,” she said. “I think that will make us more ready come Ivies.”
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