When the sun goes down, the fun gets started.
Penn volleyball begins their weekend tournament at the Palestra right when Yom Kippur ends at sundown on Saturday, looking to build off the momentum of a five-set comeback victory on Tuesday against Delaware.
The Quakers (1-3) will begin their first match of the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational at 8 p.m. against American, before facing Temple and Weber State to close out the weekend on Sunday.
When scheduling the games before the season, coach Kerry Carr marketed the games as a tournament that would work around the Jewish holiday.
“Our idea is to respect the Jewish community and the holiday,” she said. “When Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah happen on a weekend, it is kind of hard to do that since most tournaments happen on Friday and Saturday night.”
American coach Barry Goldberg is Jewish, so the Quakers will get the opportunity to face his squad after the holiday.The Eagles (7-0) will provide a tough test for the Red and Blue, as the program has won the Patriot League title in 10 of the last 12 years before starting this year undefeated.
“All the teams we are facing in the preseason are strong teams, not only in their own conference but also in terms of experience,” Carr said. “That is definitely by design, since we wanted to challenge ourselves in the preseason so we could get better.”
Both Temple (5-1) and Weber State (3-6) have started out the 2013 season on the right track as well, although the Wildcats come into the tournament on a six-game losing streak.
The Quakers are on the opposite side of the spectrum, coming off a thrilling comeback on Tuesday. Down five points in the deciding fifth set, the Red and Blue reeled off eight of the final nine points for the win.
Carr hopes that her squad can carry some confidence from its first win into the weekend matchups.
“I don’t think it is momentum we need to keep rolling. It is more newfound confidence in who we are and what we’re about,” she said. “It shows that our team never stops playing even if things don’t start out strongly for them.”
Part of that confidence comes from players stepping up their production at each position.
Sophomores Jasmine DeSilva and Michellie McDonald-O’Brien have moved into starting roles at outside hitter and middle blocker, respectively, and are both in the top four on the team in kills.
“They were both role players last year and they have started more often this season. The reason they are doing that is they keep getting better each time they go out there,” Carr said.
“When you have two players who have been on the team but not started, work hard in the spring and then produce as some of the best players on team, you aren’t surprised but very happy.”
With three games in two days, Carr is looking to switch up the lineup to keep things fresh. However, she hopes that some roles will be finalized this weekend.
“I hope that after this weekend, we start to see some people step up in certain positions,” Carr said. “Team chemistry is very important so you want to solidify a few positions early on and have variety at a one or two positions. That’s my goal to be the strongest team.”
And this weekend, the Quakers will have the chance to take a step towards becoming that stronger team.
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