With three games of its Ivy League season in the books, Penn volleyball will have its hands full this weekend as it face Yale and Brown.
The Quakers (4-10, 1-2 Ivy) are coming off of an interesting weekend. Penn saw Columbia win in the Palestra for the first time in over ten years on Friday before bouncing back tremendously on Saturday to defeat Cornell in four sets.
“It was a big growth weekend for us,” coach Kerry Carr said. “We managed to come back from what I consider a loss that we didn’t play our hardest in on Friday night, then come back and play smarter and the hardest I’ve seen this team play to date.”
This growth could not have come at a more opportune time, as the Ivy League is still anyone’s game and as Penn hosts a Bulldogs team that has reigned as Ivy League champions for the past three years.
Yale (6-6, 2-1) is currently in a three-way tie for second place with Columbia and Dartmouth; however, don’t expect the defending champions to stay in that position for long.
Yale boasts a great core of talent young and old, including Tori Shepherd, the younger sister to Penn volleyball alumnus Dani Shepherd. While at Penn, Dani won two Ivy League defensive player of the year awards and led the nation in digs per game in her junior season.
“I’ve been watching Tori for a while, because of Dani,” Carr said. “[I’m] anxious to see the Shepherd family again. It’s like she’s our little sister too, we’ll fight against her but after the game we’ll go and give her a hug.”
The Red and Blue also hold a great and electrifying core of players, perhaps none more electrifying than junior right side hitter Alex Caldwell, who in their game against Cornell this past weekend recorded 12 kills, 22 assists and 16 digs for her first and the team’s first triple double of the season.
“When I focus on one thing that coach tells me to do I don’t get flustered out there,” Caldwell said. “I just focus on that one thing and slowly but surely everything else falls into place.”
Though for some this performance came as a surprise, to those familiar with the team it was nothing special.
“We always expect that out of Alex,” Carr said, “That’s why other teams camp out on her. When you have a player that is so talented athletically, teams will camp out on her and that’s what happened.”
The growth will continue for this young Quakers team on Saturday as they match up against Brown (6-9, 1-2) who currently sits tied with Penn and Harvard for fifth place in the Ivy League.
Penn will be the final stop in a four-game road trip for the Bears as they will see a Princeton squad that sits undefeated atop the Ivy League on Friday, before coming to the Palestra.
This weekend will serve as a measuring stick to see how much this Penn team has grown and how much growing it still has to do. But one thing is for sure — the Quakers may be young, but they are ready.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.