For the second straight year, Penn volleyball finished over .500 in the Ancient Eight during the 2013 season, turning in a solid performance but unable to top Ivy powerhouse Yale. Newcomers like Arielle Winfield and Rachel Baader mixed well with upperclassmen like Susan Stuecheli and Dani Shepherd, helping to produce our top five moments from last season.
1. Princeton payback
After losing to Princeton in their first Ivy match, the Quakers were out for revenge. That revenge was served rather swiftly as Penn won in straight sets, going 25-19, 25-20, 25-22. It was one of Penn’s more well-rounded efforts, getting eight kills apiece from four different athletes. Shepherd led the squad in both service aces (five) and digs (16).
2. A home sweep
There is nothing better than sweeping conference rivals and Penn was able to do that against its Empire State foes, Cornell and Columbia. The Quakers were taken to the brink by the Big Red, pulling out a five-set win, before beating Columbia in straight sets. Senior Kristen Etterbeek put up big numbers on the weekend, leading Penn with 31 kills while also contributing 21 digs during the two matches.
3. A day of close calls
Penn was still in the nonconference portion of its schedule when it hosted the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational at the Palestra. The Quakers fell in their only match on the first day of invitational — in straight sets to American — before facing Temple and Weber State on day two. What ensued were two straight matches that went the distance ... and two Penn victories.
In both matches, the squad lost two of the first three sets before winning the final two sets. Helping to fill in for Shepherd, who was injured at the time, then-sophomore Alexis Genske put together two strong matches, adding 51 digs to Penn’s winning effort.
4. Coming back vs. Delaware In early September, the Red and Blue were still on the hunt for their first victory of the year when Delaware came to town. On a Tuesday evening at the Palestra, the Quakers fell down two sets to none before their game really got going. Penn won the third set somewhat comfortably, 25-19, before two nail biting sets barely went its way. The win was a catalyst for a squad that won a total of seven five-set matches.
5. A solid split
Last year, the Ivy League seemed to be Yale ... and everyone else. When Penn traveled to Brown and Yale in mid-October, the Quakers put together a strong result, taking a set off the Ivy-leading Elis before sweeping Brown in straight sets. Stuecheli led the way against Brown, putting up 15 kills a day after adding 10 kills against the Bulldogs.