One weekend. Two challenging opponents. And a pair of tough losses for Penn volleyball.
After suffering a brutal loss in straight sets to Princeton in Friday night’s Ivy League opener, Penn came into Sunday’s non-conference battle with Dayton looking to regain its footing before its upcoming Ivy bout with Columbia.
Penn managed to fight back to win a set at the Palestra, but still fell 25-13, 23-25, 25-15, 25-18, to the Flyers (13-4), who took advantage of the Quakers’ (3-9) inconsistent play.
The Red and Blue once again got off to a decent start and found themselves down by just a single point at 11-10 in the first set, but Dayton reeled off a 14-3 run to take the first set of the match.
The second set started in similar fashion, with the two teams effectively trading points. With the score tied at 13, Penn went on a 7-3 run to take command of the set. However, Dayton fought back and evened it up at 22 apiece, prompting Penn coach Kerry Carr to call timeout. A kill from junior middle blocker Michellie McDonald-O’Brien out of the break put the Quakers back ahead, and they wrapped up a 25-23 set victory moments later on a kill from freshman outside hitter Aimee Stephenson.
After the intermission, the Quakers came out looking to build on their newfound momentum, but the Flyers quickly turned things around by winning the first three points of the third set. After Penn battled to within two points, Dayton put things away and took the set , 25-15.
“They regrouped terrifically well,” Carr said of Dayton’s performance after the second set. “Probably due to their coach Tom Horsmon. They came out in the third set on a high note, after we had just beat them down.”
The Red and Blue claimed an early lead in the fourth set, but Dayton proved to be too much for the Quakers to handle. After fighting back to 20-16, Penn was unable to continue their rally and ultimately fell, 25-18, in the set, as the Flyers put the finishing touches on their victory.
Once again, the Quakers’ undoing would be their ineffectiveness above the net, as they were out-blocked and out-killed by wide margins. The second set featured a reversal of those trends, as Penn put the pieces together; yet they were unable to continue their success into the final two sets.
Penn has been losing control of close sets due to long opposing runs all season, and it has been a focus for Carr and the team in practice.
“We play ‘stop the run’ in practice, and make sure they know ways to get first-ball kills, right away,” Carr said. “And how to not get in a rally situation — that falls to the team with the momentum.”
Penn will have a few days of practice to try to right the ship. The Quakers will next play on Friday at 5 p.m. , when they try to even up their Ivy League record in a battle at the Palestra with the Lions.
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