Penn volleyball’s seniors may have lost Saturday night, but they didn’t go down without a fight.
After a matchup with Dartmouth on Friday night that saw Penn handle its Ivy League foe in three sets, the Red and Blue were primed for a matchup against first place Harvard. Despite a strong effort, though, the Quakers fell in five sets.
This was no ordinary night, however, as it marked the last time that the seniors on the team would play volleyball at the Palestra: Senior Night.
“It’s definitely weird having this be our last game here,” senior Kendall Turner said. “I think as a team we really left everything on the floor tonight. For us and our fans who came out to support this weekend.”
Harvard started the first set with a five point run to go up 5-0.
After calling a timeout, the Quakers began to climb their way back into the game. However, the Red and Blue were only able to bring the match to within one point, momentarily trailing 18-19. The set ended 21-25, with Penn falling just short.
Though closer, the second set was much like the first for Penn. The Quakers fought hard and were able to stick with Harvard until the end to force a 24-24 tie, but two kills from the Crimson’s sophomore outside hitter Grace Weghorst were enough to leave it at that as Harvard won 26-24 to go up two sets to Penn’s zero.
After a break in the action that saw a heartwarming “Quaker Vision” feature honoring the 1989 and 2009 Ivy League championship teams, Penn came out with an even stronger determination and an even more fired up crowd.
“The conversation we had wasn’t about changing anything,” Carr said. “It was just about going over the things we were doing. We shifted our defense slightly to cover up some holes, the girls saw where they needed to hit the ball and we just came out prepared.”
The third set bore different results for the Red and Blue. Much like the second and first, it was a tight set throughout, but this time though the Quakers found themselves on top. The Crimson were almost able to steal the set, but junior Alex Caldwell dashed that hope for Harvard, collecting her sixth kill of the set to win it for the Red and Blue, 25-23.
The crowd became louder as the night went on, and Penn’s momentum increased with it.
The fourth would replicate the first set in score, but this time however the victor was different. Building off of the night’s momentum and the screams from alumni in the crowd, the Quakers would silence the Crimson’s attempts to finish the match out yet again, this time winning 25-21.
The crowd in the Palestra roared, as it seemed as though Penn would complete the upset of the season.
“Big shout out to our fans tonight,” Carr said. “They definitely won us some points tonight. We’ve been winning lately and its great that we can get this kind of support at home.”
The fifth and final set epitomized the night as a whole: a battle for each point with just a few points separating the Ancient Eight foes.
In this battle to 15, however, Harvard ended up on top, defeating the Quakers 15-11.
“They played the hardest I’ve ever seen tonight,” Carr said. “Mentally and physically. We’ve gotten better each night. That’s a testament to our seniors, our captains and our freshmen. We went after it. We didn’t go down being safe and we nearly out-played one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league, and the team that will win it all.”
With improvements being made daily, it will be interesting to see which version of Penn will take the floor next weekend against Brown and Yale.
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