This is what it all comes down to.
The Ivy League title may be out of reach for Penn volleyball, but there is still the chance to end the season on a long winning streak and with a victory against every team in the Ivy League.
“To me, [beating every team in the Ivy League] would say that we’re the best team in the league at the end of the season,” coach Kerry Carr said. “It says a lot about the character of our team that when we had four losses, we didn’t just quit because we didn’t think we could catch up — we just got better.”
The Quakers (14-9, 8-4 Ivy) return to the Palestra this weekend for their final two matches against Brown (11-12, 7-5) and Ivy champion Yale (17-4, 11-1). Penn is 7-2 at home this season and is currently riding a six-game winning streak.
“So far we’ve been able to beat every team that we’ve dropped a set to the first time around, so the girls are confident that we can change and that the people who beat us don’t want to change as much,” Carr said. “We’re a different team right now, I watched us when we played Yale and we’re running different people and we have different people on the floor.”
Last time the Quakers played Brown, the result was a quick sweep for Penn in Providence, capping the month-long road trip that began the Ivy League season.
“We played very well against Brown, but I think we need to remember that they’re on a roll now too,” Carr said.
Indeed, the Bears come into Friday’s matchup riding a three-match winning streak. However, much of the focus this weekend will be on Saturday’s matchup against Yale, as the Quakers seek to avenge their early season loss and close out their season strong.
“Against Yale, we beat them a set and we watched Harvard beat them, so we know how they can be beaten,” Carr said. “We’re just trying to add something new to our game to come at them from different angles that worked last time as well as other ways.”
Senior captains Dani Shepherd, Kristen Etterbeek and Susan Stuecheli are looking to finish their Penn careers on a high note this weekend in the gym they’ve called home for the past four years.
“I think we’re ready. It’s time for us,” Etterbeek said. “We’ve had a great season and we’re more excited to actually focus on the next two games coming up rather than to think of them as our last games.”
So even though these games may be meaningless in terms of a championship, Penn is still approaching these games with the same vigor that has driven the team all season.
“This is everything to the girls,” Carr said. “If the Ivy League championship is out of reach, this is the next best thing.”
“We can come in second, go out with a bang and we can go out knowing that we’re the best team in the league. If we can go ahead and say that, we’re saying a lot for the future.”
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