In a sport like volleyball, so much depends on being able to move on from tough points. But often times, it can be just as important to move on from tough matches. And that’s exactly what Penn did this weekend, as the Quakers rebounded from a difficult 3-0 loss to Yale to defeat Brown in straight sets just a day later.
Against Yale (12-4, 5-2 Ivy), the Red and Blue (8-11, 3-4) were able to keep each set close early on. Down the stretch however, the Bulldogs proved why they entered the game at second place in the Ivy League. Behind the power of outside hitters Kelly Wirth and Brittani Steinberg, who combined for 18 kills, Yale pulled away in each set to win, 25-19, 25-18, 25-16.
As a team, Penn struggled to land kills efficiently against the Bulldogs. The Red and Blue finished the game with only a .119 hitting percentage. Though the match’s final result was disappointing for the Quakers, the team was eager to turn things around the following night against Brown (4-13, 2-5).
Penn set the tone early on against the Bears, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first set. From there, Brown fought back to keep things close, but the Quakers were ultimately able to hold on for a 25-22 win. Sophomore outside hitter Courtney Quinn was especially effective in the set, leading the team with six kills and an efficient .500 hitting percentage.
“Every time you go out there, you just try to put your team in the best placing,” Quinn said, “whether that’s you getting kills, or making better situations for other people.”
In the second set, the two teams traded leads throughout. The Bears actually built a 20-18 lead, but the Red and Blue showed their resilience in coming back for a narrow 25-23 victory.
The Quakers picked up right where they left off in the third set. Though Penn lost the set’s first two points, the team trailed only once more en route to a 25-21 win to close out the match.
Much of Penn’s dominant performance had to do with the strong play of junior setter Sydney Morton. Despite battling through illness, Morton was able to finish the match with 29 assists, including 14 in the second set.
It was also a special weekend inside the Palestra, as the Quakers were hosting their annual Dig Pink! fundraising event during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“To me, everybody wins if we’re raising money for breast cancer research,” coach Kerry Carr said. “So to me, it’s not about the scoreboard.”
On the scoreboard, however, things won’t be getting any easier for the Quakers this week, as Red and Blue will face off against league-leading Princeton for the second time this season. In the first match-up, the Tigers (13-3, 7-0) just edged out Penn in a five-setter, and Penn is hungry for revenge.
“We want them bad,” said Carr.
Quinn expressed a similar attitude. “I could not think of a team that we want to beat more than Princeton.”
With Penn representing the only Ivy League team to have even taken a set from Princeton this season, all hands on deck will be needed to orchestrate an upset and introduce the Tigers to the loss column for the first time in conference play. The longtime rivals will face off on Friday night in New Jersey.
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