It was a rollercoaster of emotions for Penn volleyball this weekend, as the team struggled to close out Harvard, but then topped Dartmouth.
The Red and Blue opened the weekend with their most heartbreaking loss of the season Friday, as the Red and Blue dropped the last three sets against Harvard to lose 3-2.
The Quakers were able to start strong in Cambridge, which has been one of their greatest struggles this season. Recovering from a five point hole in the first set, the Red and Blue rode strong performances from senior middle blocker Kendall Turner and freshman libero Emmy Friedler to come back and win 25-20.
The second set was a more convincing victory for Penn as all three captains—senior setter Meghan Connolly, senior right side Trina Ohms, and junior outside hitter Alexis Genske—played key roles in the set win.
The wheels then fell off for the Quakers. Penn did not hold a lead at any point in the following three sets, dropping them 25-20, 25-15, and 15-11 respectively. The Quakers' defense could not contain the Crimson's well-balanced offense, as five Harvard players ended with double-digit kills. Sensational sophomore setter Corrine Bain of Harvard finished with a triple-double and four serving aces.
Harvard’s comeback exposed holes in the Quakers’ game plan, but there were bright spots. Alex Caldwell finished with another double-double, providing Penn with much-needed support in passing and on defense. Connolly, who had only played in 22 sets this season, came off the bench to record three service aces, most of any Quaker on Friday. The Red and Blue as a team began to finally play well against the block, allowing only seven blocks in five sets.
And that blocking would prove huge the next day, as the Quakers took down Dartmouth in four sets, highlighted by Caldwell’s second triple double of the season. Penn out-blocked the Big Green, 11-4, in what was the key to the team’s performance.
The Quakers managed to transfer their dominance at the net into hitting success and ended the game with a .234 hitting percentage.
Dartmouth’s offensive effort came from a variety of sources, as three players managed double digit kills.
Penn will continue its long string of Ivy League road games next weekend against Princeton.
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