Penn volleyball came close to vastly improving on its impressive opening weekend.
But unfortunately for them, the Red and Blue went 1-2 over the weekend in the Valley Forge Sports Invitational, a tournament co-hosted by Penn and La Salle that included Navy, Robert Morris, and Siena.
In game one, the Red and Blue (3-3) flexed their superiority and defeated a lesser opponent in Siena (0-8) by a score of 25-12, 25-15, 25-21.
In set one, the Quakers attacked the Saints' defense and used multiple service runs to distance themselves from their opponent. Kendall Covington, who continued her strong season and was named to the all-tournament team for the second week in a row, was set up for huge kills all game long after quality assists from setter Sydney Morton.
Siena attempted to battle back in a tightly contested second, preventing the Quakers from pulling away early on. However, following a Siena service error at 15-14, Penn began to assert itself. Courtney Quinn grabbed two quick service aces that jump-started the Red and Blue to a 10-1 run to close out the set, and they never looked back.
In the third set, the Saints adjusted and the Red and Blue fell behind early. Down 11-8, Coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley called timeout to allow her team to regroup.
The coaching move paid off as the Quakers came out firing from that point on.
Parker Jones, the reigning DP Sports Player of the Week, and Covington were dynamic, registering blistering strikes en route to earning 11 and eight kills respectively for the game. The third set also saw some key kills from Hayley Molnar and Brooke Behrbaum, both of whom finished with six kills each.
“We have a great squad,” Schumacher-Cawley said. “They’re getting better with each opportunity.”
Although that win got the weekend off to a good start, the Red and Blue could not quite keep it up in their next two matches.
In its second game, Penn fell to Navy in four sets with a score of 22-25, 17-25, 25-19, 22-25.
Despite the loss, the Quakers still enjoyed some strong individual performances. Parker Jones registered yet another double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs, and Morton continued her strong start to the season with a double-double on 39 assists and 13 digs.
Schumacher-Cawley was quick to credit Navy (9-1) after the loss.
“Navy is a good team. They played hard and competed,” she noted. “They took us out of our game, and we need to learn from it.”
Match three saw a Quaker comeback against La Salle come agonizingly short. After dropping the first two sets, the Red and Blue forced a fifth set against the Explorers (9-3), but ultimately lost 18-25, 17-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-17.
“We got off to a slow start today,” Schumacher-Cawley explained. “We were uncomfortable, and we need to be more ready to go.”
Indeed, after shaking off that slow start, Penn played to its potential. Unfortunately it was too little, too late.
That match's Quaker was led by the usual suspects, Covington and Jones. Jones logged 14 kills on the day and Covington, starring once again, was not far behind with 13.
“[Kendall] played great all weekend,” Schumacher-Cawley said. “She plays with high energy and brings all of that energy [to the court].”
The Quakers do have some work to do to be ready for Ivy League competition in a few weeks, however.
“We made too many service errors,” Schumacher-Cawley explained. “We have to learn from this to be prepared for Ivy League competition.”
Although they’ll certainly be looking to improve, the Red and Blue won’t be dwelling on their missed opportunities.
“It’s a short week for us,” Schumacher-Cawley noted. “We’re gonna work hard these next two days and be ready to go at Robert Morris next weekend.”
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