History was against the Quakers.
They were down two sets on an away court and it had been nearly three years since Penn had climbed out of an 0-2 hole.
History didn’t repeat itself.
Wednesday night at Delaware, the Quakers (5-5) defeated the Blue Hens (3-10), 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-13), winning the final three sets to secure a .500 record entering conference play.
Delaware came out very strong early on, and despite the Red and Blue’s strong counterattack, the Blue Hens pulled out the first two sets narrowly.
Coming up just short — twice — could discourage many teams, but this squad literally found a way to dig deep, as the Quakers recorded the second-most digs in the program’s history on.
“We were in both sets one and two until the very end,” coach Kerry Carr said. “We just had to make minor adjustments.”
“It was more stay the course instead of getting frustrated,” she added.
With the game knotted up at two sets each, Penn was down in the decisive set, 12-9, three points away from a heartbreaking defeat.
Once again, the Quakers came together when they needed to, taking six of the final seven points, to clinch the final set, 15-13.
“We stayed together as a team, and were just being loud and talking to each other,” freshman Alex Caldwell said, noting that communication determined the ups and downs of the night.
Penn shared the ball well throughout the match, and four athletes recorded more than 10 kills. Freshman Ronnie Bither helped anchor the offense, handing out 41 assists to Penn’s attacking front.
The offensive production came from veterans and newcomers alike as Caldwell notched 15 kills, tying her with senior Amanda Pacheco for the most kills on the team.
Caldwell, who was coming off a triple-double from last weekend, repeated the feat, as recording 16 digs and 25 assists to go with her team-high in kills.
“We spread our offense very well,” Caldwell said.
On the defensive side, Carr noted that after set two, her team started blocking better — the Quakers had 22 blocks on the night. While the Red and Blue impressed in the air, they also excelled on the ground. Junior Dani Shepherd had 46 digs, breaking the program record she set herself last year against Harvard. The team’s 141 digs marked only the second time Penn has broken the 140 threshold in one game.
Wednesday’s game proved Penn has the mentality to overcome early setbacks, and adapt as needed. The come-from-behind win should give the Red and Blue momentum as they enter conference play.
“Going into the Ivy season, we’re prepared,” Caldwell added.