Although nearly half the women’s volleyball team hails from California, familiarity with the Golden State couldn’t help the Quakers over the weekend.
Facing tough competition, the Red and Blue returned from their West Coast road trip with a victory, going 1-2 over the three-game Molten Classic in Berkeley, Calif.
Friday, after three hard-fought sets, Penn fell to Cal-Berkeley, 23-25, 12-25 and 19-25.
“We played one of the top teams in the country in Cal-Berkeley and we played them really well,” coach Kerry Carr said. “To come out of the gates and play the best team in the tournament might have been kind of intimidating, but our team handled it well.”
Sophomore Emma White led the Quakers will 11 kills on the offensive side, while junior Dani Shepherd added 13 digs on the other end of the floor. Freshman Ronnie Bither continued her strong play, contributing 28 assists and six digs.
“We pushed them — they had to keep in their starters the whole time and use all of their timeouts,” Carr said. “At this point in the season, facing competition similar to what we’d see if we were to get into the [NCAA] tournament at the end of the season was very important.”
Against another top-notch program in Northern Arizona, the Quakers also fell, but improved by strides in route to a four-set loss, 19-25, 12-25, 25-21, 17-25.
White and Shepherd once again led the Red and Blue with 13 kills and 28 digs, respectively, but the team simply could not match NAU’s firepower, evidenced by the 56-47 kill discrepancy.
Needing a victory to return back to Philadelphia with tangible success, the Quakers came into their last match firing on all cylinders. They handily beat UC Riverside in three sets, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.
“We really grew through the tournament,” Carr said. “We were able to put everything together by the end, and we just killed them. That was important for our team to do, being tired and down after losing the first couple of games.”
White simply would not allow her team to lose the game, leading both the offensive and defensive attack with 13 kills and 24 digs. Bither out-assisted UC Riverside as a team, 34-28, proving once again that she will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
“Whenever you can come out all the way out to California and leave with a win, it makes the whole weekend really a success,” Carr said.
With only one more tournament until Ivy play begins Sept. 22, the Quakers are hoping to continue developing their young talent and finalizing lineups. The Molten Classic served as not only a test early in the season, but also a benchmark of where the Red and Blue currently stand.
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