It was a rollercoaster weekend for Penn volleyball.
The Quakers claimed their first Ivy League victory of the season with a five-set win over Cornell, 3-2. Penn (7-7, 1-2 Ivy) managed to salvage its New York road trip after a loss to Columbia on Friday night.
“The team really got together and changed some things emotionally,” coach Kerry Carr said. “And we came out and fought hard against a team that hadn’t lost an Ivy match yet.”
Penn claimed a back-and-forth first set against the Big Red (5-3, 2-1 Ivy) through excellent offensive volleyball with 17 kills to Cornell’s nine. However, this early lead was soon squandered as the Big Red offense exploded in the second set and watched the Quakers committed 11 errors in the third.
“Our biggest challenge was coming back from mistakes,” Carr said. “It’s playing through when we’re not playing well, when individuals aren’t playing well, how to play around them and pick up the slack in other areas.”
The Red and Blue finally turned the match back around in the fourth set as they managed a clean set with only four errors to their 19 kills. Penn then managed to close out the match in a fifth set that saw the team only trail once.
“We had some tough moments, but we overcame them and rode it to a win,” Carr said. “The players used their emotions to carry through.”
Penn improved its record in five set matches to 5-3, and feels as though its tendency for long matches will be beneficial in the long run.
“When we get in that situation, we know how to handle it,” coach Carr said. “That’s something that we have over those teams that don’t play that many sets.”
Freshman middle blocker Arielle Winfield and sophomore setter Alex Caldwell tied for the team lead in kills at 13. Caldwell also contributed 34 assists, a team-high, in the victory.
“We knew what we had to do to beat Cornell tonight,” Caldwell said. “Just focusing on our game plan and not being distracted by what’s going on the other side.”
Penn brought its record back to the .500 mark and is hoping to build off of this success to its Ivy League championship aspirations.
Cornell lost for the first time since September 21st, having defeated Columbia and Princeton in its past two matches.
The Quakers will continue their wild road trip ride next weekend, when they bring the ruckus to Yale and Brown.
“Against Cornell, we just took the fans out of it and decided to be the loudest people in the gym,” Carr said.
“I think that was a huge factor for us tonight.”
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