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Junior outside hitter Alexis Genske has capitalized on her new leadership role with Penn women's volleyball.

Photo: Freda Zhao

Volleyball

MVP: Penn’s most impressive player so far has been junior outside hitter Alexis Genske . Genske leads the team by a wide margin with 159 kills and is second on the squad with 140 digs, all in a team-leading 54 sets of play. She has been a consistent performer, notching double-digit kills in 11 of the Quakers’ first 16 matches.

Strengths: Penn’s defense has been pretty solid thus far, as the Quakers rank second in the Ivy League with 16.67 digs per set. Their defensive leader is freshman libero Emmy Friedler , who is one of many young players that coach Kerry Carr is relying on this season. Other freshmen who have made an impact include outside hitter Aimee Stephenson (96 kills) and middle blocker Kendall Covington (51 kills, 28 total blocks).

Weaknesses: Penn has been severely outplayed at the net all season long, ranking next-to-last in the Ancient Eight in hitting percentage, kills per set and blocks per set. While net discipline should improve as the young team gets more experience, the Red and Blue have a lot of ground to make up in that area if they want to compete with Princeton and Yale.

Going forward: The youthful Penn squad is off to a decent start in the Ivy campaign after a very challenging nonconference season, and Carr’s crew is coming off of a thrilling five-set victory against Brown. It will be tough to catch up to the leaders, but the foundation for a solid season appears to be there.

Men’s Soccer

MVP: The Quakers have a pair of forwards deserving of co -MVP honors, as senior Duke Lacroix and sophomore Alec Neumann are tied for third in the Ancient Eight with 14 points apiece.

Strengths: Lacroix and Neumann have been bright spots, but they are not alone. Junior midfielder Forrest Clancy has four assists and netted a game-winning free kick in the Ivy opener against Cornell. Junior goalkeeper Max Polkinhorne leads the Ivy League with 51 saves and ranks fourth with a save percentage of .740.

Weaknesses: The defense. Polkinhorne has been solid, but he is being tested far too often. The Quakers have allowed a league-worst 1.87 goals per game.

Going forward: The Quakers stumbled late in their loss to Columbia, and now have some ground to make up if they want to defend their Ivy title. For Penn to have a chance at repeating, the defense will have to hold up its end of the bargain and relieve the constant pressure on Polkinhorne.

Cross Country

MVP: The biggest name in Penn’s cross country program — and in the Ivy League — is Thomas Awad , and the junior lived up to his billing by finishing fourth in an extremely competitive field at the Notre Dame Invitational. His finish was tops among Ivy runners.

Strengths: Penn’s underclassmen are off to a solid start this year, with sophomores Ashley Montgomery, Clarissa Whiting, Nicholas Tuck, Brendan Shearn and Lyle Wistar running well to go along with freshmen Abby Hong, Ross Wilson and Kylene Cochrane. It’s an encouraging sign to see the younger runners in the program putting on impressive performances. Junior captain Amy Darlington is giving the women strong leadership and some excellent running. Oh, and did we mention that Awad fellow?

Weaknesses: The Quakers should be pleased with their early performance, but appear to lack the experience and depth to compete for the Ivy title against a team like Princeton right now.

Going Forward: The Red and Blue will look to make some noise and turn some heads down the stretch of the season. Penn’s next big test will come at the Princeton Invitational

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