The recent rise of play within the Ivy League has been a swift one. With schools scrambling to get the one or two pieces to complete their Ivy League title puzzles, competition for recruits has never been so high.
In 2009 and 2010, Penn volleyball was at the peak of the Ivy League. However, since Penn's shared Ivy League title with Yale in 2010, the Bulldogs have gone on to win three more solo Championships.
The league has been going through more changes in recent years, as the level of volleyball has elevated tremendously. But it’s not just the level that has changed: it's also the style.
“When I first got here it was more of a finesse game,” senior Kendall Turner said. “Now we’re starting to get a lot more of the big hitters that generally went to other schools. It’s becoming a faster paced, kill the ball type of game.”
With the changes that almost every other team has made by adding a set power hitter, coach Kerry Carr and the Quakers have decided to keep an old fashioned approach
“My philosophy is to spread it out,” Carr said. “I could make one of our hitters that and give her all the balls, but I prefer not to. It helps to win an Ivy championship to have one of those hitters that people worry about. I’m not sure whom people worry about on our team. I use that as advantage.”
While the type of volleyball being played is shifting, the Red and Blue are keeping it old school, exactly the way coach Carr has succeeded in the past with her more finesse style of play.
“The times I’ve won the championship is when we’re a well rounded team,” Carr said. “We could make Emmy [Friedler] that, but I think she’s a much better player in the system than being highlighted.”
No story better proves that the talent coming in is increasing more and more than that of freshman libero Emmy Friedler; she is currently leading the team with 270 digs.
“I think Madison and Danny, our All-American liberos that were before Emmy, did that in their junior and seniors,” Carr said, referring to Friedler’s 34-dig performance against Brown. “Emmy’s already doing that as a freshman.”
The play for volleyball is rising across the board as it becomes more popular across the country, so it makes sense that the rise in skill level would also hit the Ivy League.
“It’s becoming really important in culture in general to have a really good post high school education,” Turner said. “and so the fact that the Ivy League is so good academically its drawing a lot of people who aren’t sold on going to a big sports school.”
While this finesse style may appear to hold a large disadvantage for the Quakers, this lesser implemented style remains very effective against more power-oriented opponents.
“Our team specifically doesn’t have any huge, pound the ball into the ground, hitters,” Turner said. “We’re still playing the ‘tip-it’ game, that messes up the other teams because they’re used to digging really hard balls so when you tip it in front of them they don’t know what to do.”
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