The Penn volleyball team has come out of the gate strong in every game of the season, and this weekend was no different.
The Quakers split their first Ivy weekend away from their home court, easily overcoming Dartmouth in three sets but falling to Harvard in a five-set battle.
Despite the split, the Red and Blue (6-8, 1-2 Ivy) dominated both teams in the first sets of both matches, setting themselves up for two victories.
Penn has won the first set in its last four matches and 10 out of 14 times this season.
Against Dartmouth (2-11, 1-2), the Quakers had little trouble. Junior Susan Stuecheli notched 13 kills and hit .706 on the night. Freshman Alex Caldwell also had an impressive game, with six kills and a team-high 12 assists.
“We were consistent,” coach Kerry Carr said. “We were steady and we stayed the course even when Dartmouth had a couple of runs.”
The Quakers took the match against Dartmouth, 25-20, 25-15 and 25-18, in 90 minutes.
However, the rest of the weekend wasn’t as easy.
The first set against the Crimson seemed to be a continuation of the dominance Penn had shown against Dartmouth. Penn easily took the first match, 25-16.
“We came out really well against Harvard and killed them that first set,” Carr said.
But in the second set, the Crimson (4-10, 1-2) turned up the heat, capitalizing on late errors by the Quakers to win, 25-15.
“I think we lost a little confidence at the end of this set especially because we did kill them so easily in the first set,” Carr said. “But Harvard just played better and we let that get into our head.”
After taking the third set with relative ease, Penn looked to be ready to take the fourth set.
The Quakers amounted a 13-6 lead, but Harvard ratcheted up its offense and went on a 6-0 run. Errors again ailed Penn, which allowed the Crimson to tie the set at 19.
“Harvard’s a really up-and-down team,” Carr said. “They are a very offensive team and when they hit well, they hit really well.”
The back and forth followed for the rest of the set, and Harvard ultimately earned the 25-22 win, forcing a fifth set.
In the final set a familiar scenario plagued the Quakers, who fell, 15-13. Penn has now lost its last three matches that have extended to five sets.
“I wasn’t doing aggressive subbing enough, putting fresh players in there,” Carr said. “I think we’re all going to re-look at things and make sure we stay aggressive all the way from start to finish.”
The Quakers now sit in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Ivy standings and will need to make up ground when they host Cornell and Columbia at the Palestra this weekend.The Penn volleyball team has come out of the gate strong in every game of the season, and this weekend was no different.
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