With the stands shaking with fans adorned in pink, Penn volleyball showed its true colors.
In a rematch against Princeton, who won the previous matchup in five sets, the Quakers pulled out a straight set victory, 25-19, 25-22, 25-20.
“We played at a high level consistently and we were super aggressive, even when things weren’t going right,” coach Kerry Carr said.
“I think [senior] Kristen Etterbeek was a symbol of that even if she hit help, she came back even harder the next time and that was huge for our momentum.”
The win brings the Quakers (10-9, 4-4 Ivy) back to a .500 record in the Ivy League, while the Tigers (6-12, 2-6) remain mired in last place.
The Quakers came out running on all cylinders and never looked back, pulling ahead to a 4-0 lead in a first set that they would come to win 25-19. The Tigers pulled close on a few occasions but an emphatic kill by Etterbeek at 20-16 put an end to Princeton’s hopes.
The second set started much slower for the Red and Blue as they exchanged leads with the Orange and Black. However, with the match tied at 11, Penn won four consecutive points, forcing a Princeton timeout.
This would prove to be enough in the second set as the Quakers led for the rest of the set and fought off a late Tigers comeback to hold on, 25-22.
The third set began much like the first, with the Red and Blue climbing to an early lead, but Princeton fought back to within one point halfway through the set. Sophomore Alexis Genske turned the tide of the set with a point in which she recorded two digs and the kill.
The Red and Blue pulled away to win the set 25-20, recording their second straight-set Ivy League victory of the season.
The big difference in this match was senior libero Dani Shepherd, whose defensive excellence was sorely missed in Penn’s loss to Princeton earlier this season. Shepherd contributed 16 digs along with five service aces to power the Quakers to victory.
“Princeton is always a big rival for us. It was really exciting to get to play them. It was hard to watch the first time we played them because I really wanted to get on the court,” Shepherd said. “Our whole team brought it and it was a really good feel on the court. It was a team win for sure.”
Penn benefitted from a well-balanced attack, receiving eight kills each from Etterbeek, Genske, sophomore Michellie McDonald-O’Brien and fellow sophomore Jasmine DeSilva.
“I think everybody was even and that’s the first time all season that I’ve seen six players hit that way all the time,” Carr said. “If we had had one or two standouts but the rest of the players don’t play that well, then we’re not going to win.”
After the second set, Carr and the team presented a $4,000 donation to the Side-Out Foundation, which seeks to raise breast cancer awareness through recreational sports. The team wore their pink jerseys for the match and fans were encouraged to wear pink as well.
The team appeared energized by the event and the crowd as a whole, taking full advantage of their home court advantage. The bench in particular was raucous, constantly moving and cheering on their teammates.
“The energy we start with in warmups is the energy we bring to the game. It’s something we’ve been doing in practice and I think our practices this week paid off,” Carr said. “We had great practices, high energy, really short, efficient and thus we had a short, efficient game where we executed everything.”
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