Another big weekend approaches for Penn volleyball at the Palestra as they look to produce on the court against Ivy rivals Brown and Yale. But it isn’t the on-court performance alone that will matter this weekend.
The team is also hosting its annual Dig Pink! charity event during Breast Cancer Awareness month in hopes to raise money for the Side-Out Foundation and the Abramson Cancer Center & Rena Rowan Breast Center. Over the weekend, in addition to raising money and promoting awareness, teams will wear pink instead of their usual colors.
For Penn coach Kerry Carr, this weekend is meaningful on a very personal level. In September 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was forced to leave midway through the season to undergo urgent surgery.
“[Dig Pink! is] not only raising money for cancer research,” she said, “but also for creating awareness for people to get checked early and often.”
By teaming up with these foundations and using their matches to donate to this cause, the Quakers (7-10, 2-3 Ivy) hope to promote awareness of the growing epidemic of breast cancer across the country.
Out on the court, Carr sees a lot of potential for her team. Although they dropped a pair of tough five-set matches last weekend to Cornell and Columbia, she strongly believes that the girls were able to grow from the experience.
“The losses were bittersweet because we did so many good things,” Carr said. “We improved so much in so many areas. Courtney Quinn broke her own career [kills] record and added a lot to her toolbox this past weekend.”
Regardless of how close those two matches were last weekend, they still count the same as a three-set loss in the Ivy standings. That makes every contest from here on out that much more important for the Quakers.
“Every match in the Ivy League is like a championship,” she said.
“It is not what we didn’t do this past weekend, but what [they] will do this upcoming weekend,” she added.
The team was able to hold these two dominant teams in the first two sets of the match, but fell in the third. However, Carr states that with more consistency through this third set, they will ultimately be able to defeat their opponents. The team remains at 2-3 in the Ivy League and looks to strengthen their record against Brown (4-11, 2-3) and Yale (11-3, 4-1).
“[The team] is coming back into the gym with a sense of urgency and passion,” junior captain Sydney Morton agreed.
In recent years, the Elis have consistently found themselves near the top of the Ancient Eight. Lately, however, there’s been a decrease in separation between the top of the Ivy League and the rest of the conference.Since Morton has been here at Penn, the team has never beaten Yale. However, she believes that “this fuels us and makes us play better.”
Morton stresses the idea that although these are competitive Ivy matches, they still approach it like any other match and are looking to win each and every set. The team is currently 6-2 at home in the Palestra, so continuing Ivy play with a home court advantage this weekend is definitely a positive for the girls.
“We have great fans that are cheering us on all the time which is really helpful,” Morton said.
That will definitely be a motivating factor in these competitive matchups. But as important as this weekend is in the context of the Ivy standings, to Carr and her squad, it’s also about something a lot more important, and that’s what will be represented with Dig Pink! this weekend.
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