“There was this little outside hitter who killed the ball every time the game was on the line. She was like a pressure person. ... It’s the same way that she is now.”
She’s undersized. She’s young. She’s 1,500 miles from home. And outside hitter Courtney Quinn is leading the way for Penn volleyball in her sophomore campaign.
On the heels of a promising rookie season in 2015, Quinn has continued her growth into her second year, pacing the Quakers (5-7) in kills as well as posting the most digs for a non-defensive specialist.
It was no surprise that Quinn was ready to contribute to the Red and Blue from the get-go — at least, not to Penn coach Kerry Carr.
“She shared time a lot with another hitter and then she just kind of took over that spot,” Carr noted. “She was a cornerstone of our defense and passing, so she got in the back row and slowly started taking a back row spot”
Carr knew she had found a special player — and it didn’t take all that long for Quinn to realize Penn would be the right fit.
It helped that the City of Brotherly Love was no strange place to the Houston native. Her dad graduated from Villanova, her mom went to Bucknell — and the Palestra was no new venue to the Quinn family.
“My other siblings all wanted to stay close to home, and I just wanted to do my own thing,” Quinn said.
As the team has gone through a youth movement in the last year, Quinn has not been the only underclassman to quickly see time. In fact, she isn’t even the only one from Texas.
Freshman outside hitter Caroline Furrer has quickly earned her way onto the court, even earning Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors earlier in the season. Both she and Carr credit Quinn as having played a role in that development.
“Courtney always has great advice regarding our team dynamics and volleyball skills and strategy,” Furrer said. “And I can always count on her for help.”
“She’s a lot more confident than last year and people look up to her,” Carr added. “They go up to her and ask, ‘Oh, what did you do last year when this happened?’”
Furrer, like Quinn and junior middle blocker Kendall Covington, is a Texan. That bond has helped all three feel right at home in University City.
“It’s great because we can all relate about a lot of things from back home, like country music and Beyonce,” Furrer noted.
In addition to the “Texas crew,” Quinn came to campus having already forged a bond with a number of the players a year above her. In fact, her unofficial visit had happened to coincide with that class’ official visit, giving her the opportunity to share that early experience with her eventual teammates.
Now, Quinn is back with experience and a hunger for more. The end goal: An Ivy title. That quest starts on Saturday, with the Quakers’ opening Ancient Eight contest of the year against Princeton.
The Tigers represent a strong, early test for the Red and Blue. Last year, they shared the regular season Ivy title with Harvard, losing to the Crimson in a one-game playoff for the conference’s NCAA Tournament berth.
Last time around, the Quakers and Tigers split the season series. Now, Saturday’s match will be a partial indicator of just where Penn factors to be in the conference this season.
Fortunately, they’ll have Quinn on the floor, ready to lead in any way she can.
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