The Quakers are back and are ready to go for the kill once again.
After displaying a new core of talent in its opening Big 5 tournament this weekend, the defending Ivy League champion Penn volleyball team is set to pick up where it left off.
“Obviously, our goal for this season is to match last year’s goals — which is to win the Ivy League championship again and go to the NCAAs,” said coach Kerry Carr.
While last season’s success was somewhat of a surprise after a five year Ivy title drought, the team’s stellar play caught the eyes of many members of the college volleyball scene and now, Penn enters this season with a target on its back.
Prior to last year, the Quakers had been 0-3 in NCAA tournament play, having lost in the first round each time they qualified. However, last season Penn made program history, defeating Army 3-1 to advance to the second round for the first time in the program’s 36-year history.
“That was a great experience personally for me as well as the program,” said Carr. “I think that experience actually gives us a lot of confidence moving forward, and that’s going to take our program to a higher level overall in the future.”
While the experience gained from last season will be of great benefit to the team, the road back to the NCAA tournament — by way of defending the Ivy League title — won’t be an easy one.
Though most of the 2009 team has returned for another championship run, the Quakers lost six seniors to graduation, including 2009 Ivy League Player of the Year Elizabeth Semmens.
But despite the roster changes, Carr hasn’t found it difficult to move forward.
“We are a totally different team from last year,” she said. “The team has kind of developed a new identity now, so I don’t really feel the loss at all anymore.”
This may have much to do with the newest members of the team. The Quakers pressed hard during recruiting and ultimately were able to bring in six impressive players from the Class of 2014.
“We added six new freshmen, and I think it’s actually helped us,” Carr said. “When you talk about freshmen making an impact, both the freshmen and sophomore class are fighting for some open spots right now, and I think that they’re doing very well at that.”
With the freshmen already making their presence felt, and with the expected leadership and strong play from returning All-Ivy selections Megan Tryon, Madison Wojciechowski and reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Lauren Martin, the team could be well on its way to its tenth Ivy title and if all goes well, another run at the NCAA Tournament.
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