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The Quakers will look to dependable upperclassmen — like junior Alex Caldwell — to help the team apply the lessons it learned over its trip out west as it attempts to end nonconference play on a positive note.

Photo: Aaron Campbell

With morale high, Penn volleyball is looking to end its nonconference play with a bang.

The Quakers have one week until they open Ivy League play against Princeton, but this weekend, they face Villanova, La Salle and Temple in the Big 5 Volleyball Tournament at the Palestra.

Fresh off of a great bonding experience during their trip to California for the Stanford Invitational, the Red and Blue (2-5) are trying to better their results against local opponents. They went 0-3 against two nationally ranked opponents in No. 20 Duke and No. 1 Stanford, as well as a strong Santa Clara team.

Penn used each of the three matches as learning experiences, focusing on getting better point-by-point rather than solely trying to win each match.

During those three matches, junior outside hitter Alexis Genske led the squad, contributing 24 kills to lead the team, as well as 30 digs. For her efforts, she was named to the All-Tournament team.

Now the Quakers come home to face the Wildcats, Explorers and Owls in their final three nonconference matchups.

After bringing what is widely considered the loudest cheering section on the road, the Red and Blue will look to bring their bench’s same level of enthusiasm back home to the Palestra.

Penn will match up on Friday against Villanova (5-7), a team which before its victory over Delaware on Tuesday, was on the wrong end of a four-match losing streak. Last season, the Quakers fell to the Wildcats in four sets.

Friday will be Penn’s first chance to end a losing streak of its own as the Red and Blue will be going into this weekend with a five-match losing streak, their longest since the 2011-12 season.

Saturday’s matchups will start off against the Explorers (6-7) — who recently lost in three close sets to St. John’s — and will finish against an Owl squad (6-3) that is going into the weekend with a three-match losing streak.

Against Temple last year, then-sophomore Alex Caldwell led the Red and Blue to a five-set victory, contributing 10 kills, 29 assists and 14 digs.

Whether it’s Villanova, La Salle or Temple, Penn knows this weekend’s opponents well as the Quakers have compiled an 11-5 record against these three teams combined in the past five years.

With familiar foes, Penn will look to increase that victory margin to 14-5 this weekend, something that is certainly possible after the effort the Red and Blue have put forth recently.

The Quakers start Ivy play against rival Princeton on Sept. 26.

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