There’s nothing like a trip to California to bring a team closer together.
Penn volleyball visited California this weekend for the Stanford Tournament, falling to three high-quality opponents: Santa Clara, No. 1 Stanford and No. 20 Duke. However, the Red and Blue took away a wealth of experience with eight players from the Golden State returning home for the weekend.
“We didn’t expect to come home with three wins or anything like that,” coach Kerry Carr said. “But we wanted to grow as a team being in our second weekend.”
The Quakers (2-4) began the Tournament against Santa Clara (8-2), whose loss prior to the weekend came against Penn’s Ivy foe Harvard. Penn was able to hang with the Broncos in the first set, coming up with 13 kills to just two errors.
However, Santa Clara’s attack proved too daunting, unleashing 18 kills in the first set and 45 for the match. The Broncos beat Penn in straight sets, including a 25-12 second set, while junior Alex Caldwell led the way for Penn with seven kills and 10 assists.
“We learned from that second set a lot when things aren’t going right,” Carr said. “Santa Clara has an incredibly tough serve, and we weren’t able to pass it well.”
Penn also hung with Stanford (7-0) in Palo Alto on Saturday, playing three close sets that it could not pull out. Junior Alexis Genske — who was named to the All-Tournament team — and senior captain Trina Ohms, a Palo Alto native, combined for 19 kills.
“That was probably one of my favorite moments,” Ohms said about playing Stanford. “My first time ever playing volleyball was at the Stanford court, so it was cool to play a collegiate game at the first place I ever played volleyball.”
The Quakers also had an abnormally large road cheering section thanks to all the friends and family present.
With the fans on its side, Penn’s best match of the weekend came in its final match with the Red and Blue going against No. 20 Duke (6-3). The Quakers won their first set during the two days, as freshman outside hitter Aimee Stephenson sealed a 26-24 set with her fourth kill.
“Our intent going into those matches was to focus on the process and not the result,” Carr said. “If we had a good block, a good set and we got blocked on the hit, we’d focus on the first two steps of that process and celebrate the little things.”
Carr also noted that the team’s positivity helped wear down its opponents, which contributed to the success against Duke.
Outside of volleyball, the team also gave many of its players the chance to play and hang out with friends and family in the area.
“It was pretty special,” Ohms said. “It was really great that I was able to see my family and see a lot of family and friends.
“That was a big thing for half our team — half of our team is from California. Being able to have this opportunity, we’re so grateful and appreciative.
Before the Quakers left California, they went through group activities, building on the team chemistry that was especially noticeable during Ivy season last year.
The Red and Blue will look to take that chemistry back to the Palestra next weekend as they play their final tournament before Ivy season begins.
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