The roller coaster season for Penn volleyball has screeched to a stop, and the team’s final weekend of matches shows that the ride will need some maintenance moving forward.
The Quakers (8-17, 5-9 Ivy) faced their final foes of the season on a New England road trip with familiar opponents. Last time Penn faced Yale and Brown was the Dig Pink! weekend, when Yale’s Mollie Rogers led the Elis to a 3-0 victory over the Red and Blue. However, the team bounced back the next day and went the distance with the Bears, winning 3-2.
After a loss at Harvard last weekend, Penn had hoped that same bounce-back mentality would help end the season on a high note, but its final campaign against Brown and Yale resembled its first in the worst of ways.
Penn once again took Brown (12-14, 7-7) to five sets, but the party would stay in Providence as Penn dropped three straight to lose 3-2. All three lost sets were close, yet the Quakers could not seal the deal to salvage any chance of finishing with an even win-loss record in Ivy League play.
The silver lining in the Brown match was the play of Penn’s junior stars. Outside hitter Alexis Genske and right side Alex Caldwell have been the best players on the struggling roster and Friday night was no different — Genske had 19 kills and Caldwell recorded her fifth triple-double of the season.
Saturday’s match against Yale (16-7, 12-2) provided less of a look at the team’s bright spots. The Bulldogs swept their visitors in New Haven. Genske recorded only four kills, and she endured a rare match plagued by six errors. No member of the Red and Blue finished with double-digit kills for the first time since Halloween.
The seniors played comparatively well in their last game, accounting for 37 percent of Penn’s total points. Middle blocker Kendall Turner delivered a strong performance with 8.5 points, and setters Meghan Connolly and Trina Ohms each notched points in their final outing.
So ends the 2014 season for the Quakers. With a record of 8-17 and an Ivy record of 5-9, they finish in fifth place in the Ancient Eight, as Harvard and Yale tie for the Ivy title. The rankings determined by the NCAA’s RPI ranking system places Penn in the bottom half of Division I teams nationally as Penn sustains its first losing season since 2011.
Despite a middle-of-the-road performance in 2014, Penn houses a lot of potential for improvement. Of the team’s starters, only Turner is graduating. The four players who participated in the most sets are all returning, none as important as Genske. The team’s only junior captain, Genske could possess the leadership experience necessary to take this team back to Ivy contention.
With young talent and experienced leadership, the Quakers have over nine months until the roller coaster starts again. Only time will tell whether 2015 will be as rocky a ride as this year.
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