The first meeting of the season between Ivy League rivals Penn and Princeton was close. For about two minutes.
The Tigers came into the Palestra and ate the hosts alive, demolishing the Quakers in straight sets by a score of 25-15, 25-16, 25-14 to win the opening match of the Ivy League season.
Princeton (6-5, 1-0 Ivy) was led by the skyscraping duo of senior middle blocker Nicole Kincade and junior right-side hitter Kendall Peterkin, who combined for a whopping 27 kills.
Penn (3-8, 0-1) struggled on the attack all night long, notching only 26 kills with 21 errors in 93 attacks, giving the Red and Blue a hitting percentage of 0.054.
The match looked like it was shaping up to be a good one at first, with both teams trading points, and a Quakers run giving them a small edge in the first set. However, Princeton went on a huge run out of a timeout to seize an early one-set lead, and came out firing in the second set as the hosts struggled to find their rhythm.
After squashing a brief Penn rally to take a two-set lead, the Tigers completely dominated the beginning of the third set, at one point stringing together three consecutive aces as the Quakers began to struggle.
The Red and Blue showed a bit of fight and strung together a few points to make things a bit interesting, but another Princeton time-out caused another momentum shift, and the visitors closed out the Quakers to wrap up a dominating victory.
The usually dangerous freshman outside hitter Aimee Stephenson failed to record a kill, and made six errors in her seven total attacks. Junior setter and right-side hitter Alex Caldwell led the Quakers with seven kills, but made six errors of her own. Junior setter Ronnie Bither was one of the lone bright spots for the home team, as she had a kill and 12 assists to go along with 10 digs.
Penn did very little at the net on the defensive end, notching just two total team blocks and four block assists, half of which came from senior middle blocker Kendall Turner, who was fresh off of an All-Tournament performance in the Big 5 Tournament last weekend. Turner also chipped in four kills and the team's lone service ace.
Senior right-side hitter and captain Trina Ohms had a solid start to her final Ivy campaign, tallying three kills and an assist without making an error.
"She's an amazing player and captain," coach Kerry Carr said of Ohms after the game, "She can lead with her voice and her actions, and she definitely said things tonight to get the team pumped up and then went out there and did it."
Ohms was easily the most vocal player on either side, but could only do so much to combat the physical domination displayed by the Tigers throughout most of the game.
"We're a good team, but obviously we can play better," Ohms said. "We're excited to get out on the court tomorrow (for practice) and play Sunday, and play better."
Carr wasn't pleased with her squad’s overall performance. However, she saw room for improvement.
"Having two or three or four freshmen on the floor against an experienced team, they're going to find our holes even when we do everything right,” she said. “And that's a little discouraging when you do everything right and the ball still comes back. I gotta get them to play through that and make sure they know that if they keep it up, we'll eventually get on top."
Carr pointed out that Penn lost its first match with the Tigers last season before dominating them in the second matchup, and expressed hope that the Quakers will be able to beat their other more experienced foes later in the year.
"We have great senior leadership. And because of that, the young kids are gonna learn really fast,” she said. “So we're on a high learning curve. Other teams will plateau and we'll keep going up, and that's when we'll take advantage of them."
The Quakers will try to bounce back on Sunday when they host Dayton at 1 PM.
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