It was a tough weekend away for the Quakers as they closed out their season at Columbia and Cornell.
The last time the teams faced off, the Red and Blue swept both opponents. This time around, Penn (13-12, 8-6 Ivy) lost to both Columbia (13-9, 8-5) on Friday and Cornell (9-16, 5-9) on Saturday.
Penn fought to steal back the second set against both the Lions, 25-18, and Big Red, 25-20, but ultimately fell in four.
“I know that our team is capable of coming back, that’s something we’ve always done in matches,” coach Kerry Carr said. “If we get beat the first set, we’re not down and out, and we fought back … we just couldn’t sustain it for a long period of time.”
Against Columbia, senior Lauren Martin kicked off the first set with a kill, giving Penn its only lead of the set. Junior Dani Shepherd went on to log 13 of her 36 digs for the night in the first set alone.
But despite the Quakers’ numbers, the Lions edged them out, 25-21.
After bouncing back in the second set with three kills each from Martin, freshman Alex Caldwell and juniors Kristen Etterbeek and Susan Stuecheli, the Quakers went into a taxing third set, with the lead switching back and forth between teams.
Penn ultimately lost the third and fourth sets, 26-28 and 16-25, respectively.
Emma White led the Quakers with 13 kills, while Caldwell, Etterbeek and Martin had 11 each. Freshman Ronnie Bither matched Caldwell, who also logged 15 digs for her sixth triple-double of the season, with 26 assists.
Saturday night, Martin kept Penn in the first set with four kills, but the Quakers couldn’t close within three points during the set.
Like the night before, Penn took the second set of the night, 25-20. But also like the night before, the Quakers fell, 25-23 and 25-19, in the last two sets.
“It was [Cornell’s] Senior Night, they were on home court, they played like we played against Yale and Brown the past weekend,” Carr said. “It was a special night for them being home.… I think it’s the best they’ve played all season and they saved it for Princeton and Penn.”
Seniors can certainly give their teams the energy they need. For Carr, the seniors on the Penn squad leave the team with the positive energy it needs going into next season.
“I think that’s the legacy they leave on the team … the people they left behind, and they left us in great shape,” said Carr. “Even though they have big shoes to fill, they’ve already started to fill them on their way out and I think that that’s a testament to the seniors’ leadership.”
The Quakers finished the season with 2,067 digs, breaking the single-season digs record previously held by the 2009 team. With a total of 617 digs, Shepherd broke Madison Wojciechowski’s single-season individual mark of 607 from that year as well.
This leaves Carr excited for the now-experienced team’s prospects next season.
“I’m just excited to get to work with a seasoned team like this next year because we were on the brink and didn’t quite get there because of the inexperience, and now we have that experience,” she said. “Next year we can use this and build on this.”