The Penn volleyball team knew going into the weekend that its margin for error was slim.
After a loss to Princeton in the team’s Ivy opener, the Quakers likely will have to win all of their matches for the rest of the year in order to remain in the driver’s seat on the road back to the Ivy League title.
Yet, midway through Saturday’s clash with Columbia, it looked as if Penn’s five-game win streak might come to an abrupt end. But after falling behind in each set, the Quakers displayed an unwillingness to go down without a fight.
Penn’s four-set victory over Columbia followed a dominant win over Cornell Friday to cap a solid weekend for the Quakers on the road. The weekend’s results kept Penn in a tie with Princeton at the top of the League.
Though the Quakers had not lost to Columbia since October 2005, this year’s Lions squad (12-6, 4-4 Ivy) entered this year improved from previous seasons. The Red and Blue (10-9, 6-1) knew the challenge that was ahead of them.
“We knew how much better Columbia had gotten by watching their film,” coach Kerry Carr said.
It was a hard fought, close match the entire way. After falling behind early, the Quakers squeaked out the first two sets, 25-21, 25-22. They came back several times in the third but could not overcome a 7-1 run by the Lions to close out the set.
In the fourth set, Penn once again fell behind 16-8. And once again, the team stormed back to tie the match at 22. The Quakers ultimately took the set 26-24, sealing their third straight undefeated Ivy weekend.
“Even though the other team had the momentum, we didn’t just go away,” the coach said. “We were able to take away their momentum. Those are the hardest matches to win.”
Sophomores Lauren Martin and Amanda Pacheco led the offense with 17 and 13 kills respectively. Senior Madison Wojciechowski had 28 digs, and senior Megan Tyron had 45 assists.
“It was a total team effort,” Carr said. “I thought that what we did best this weekend was not to rely on one person.”
That team effort was on display in the Quakers 25-18, 25-21, 25-17 win over a struggling Cornell squad that kicked off the weekend.
“Playing up at Cornell on the road is one of the toughest places to play,” Carr said. “They get a lot of fans and they are really comfortable in their home gym. We knew we were going to have to play our best volleyball in order to win this weekend.”
The Quakers' ability to receive the tough serves from Cornell put them over the top.
“Our set up ball was very consistent. When they were serving we knew that we were going to get the ball back right away.”
Proof of this comes from Tyron’s team-high 38 assists. Meanwhile, the Penn ‘D’ — led by Wojciechowski, who recorded 19 digs — held Cornell to a dismal .133 hitting percentage. Senior Julia Swanson pitched in with 12 digs and 10 kills to give her a double-double.
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