The Penn volleyball team that has won two straight championships will have to go for a three-peat with a new-look roster.
The Quakers lost three first-team All-Ivy players in Madison Wojciechowski, Julia Swanson and last year’s Ivy Player of the Year, Megan Tryon.
“We did lose a lot of influential players from our 2010 championship team, but we’re really focused on recreating this 2011 team with a different set of goals because we’re so young,” senior captain Logan Johnson said. “We’re pretty much starting fresh.”
Johnson, a defensive specialist, is the lone senior on a young team that consists of seven juniors, six sophomores and seven freshmen.
The result is a squad that is highly talented, but noticeably lacking the experience previous groups have enjoyed.
“We have a lot of people who don’t have a lot of experience at this point,” coach Kerry Carr said. “But the talent is there. It’s a very talented team.”
Given the Class of 2013’s experience, Carr will likely lean on the junior class this season.
Right-side hitter Lauren Martin and middle blocker Amanda Pacheco both had solid sophomore showings. Each earned a Second Team All-Ivy honor and recorded some of the Quakers’ best marks in several statistical categories.
In addition, outside hitter and co-captain Sarah Cobbinah made her presence felt in last season’s NCAA Tournament matchup against Ohio and should make an impact both on and off the court.
“It’s an exciting position to be in to help lead the team to success,” Cobbinah said. “Whether you’re a Rookie of the Year or haven’t had as much playing time, I think all the juniors have a very influential and meaningful position on the team.”
Despite the youth and inexperience of the freshmen, the upperclassmen have surely taken note of their talent and versatility.
According to Johnson, the Class of 2015 — which is getting along great with the rest of the team — will be the “key to our success.” And while Carr admitted it may take some time before she settles on a final rotation, she anticipates the freshmen will see time on the court at different points in the season.
“I think because the upperclassmen have taken such a charge in making sure they felt fine, the freshmen are just blending right in,” Carr said. “You’ll definitely see freshmen out there.”
Carr conceded the new-look team will need some time to get to where she wants it to be, but said it is “improving by leaps and bounds.”
Penn’s goal is still to bring home a third consecutive Ivy League title, but in the meantime, the Quakers are taking it step by step, starting with this weekend’s Big 5 Tournament.
“It’s important to have patience with this group and watch them and encourage their development,” Carr said. “I think that’s what’s going to make them develop fast and hopefully we’ll have a title by the end of it.”
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