Ike Onyeador | Time for champs to turn it around
October 21, 2011, 1:07 am · Updated October 21, 2011, 1:52 am·
Megan Falls | DP
After one go-round through the Ivy League, it’s about time for the Quakers to right the ship.
Following three-straight losses, Penn’s volleyball team (6-11, 2-5 Ivy) — the two-time reigning champions of the Ivy League — finds itself tied for sixth place in the conference and just one game in front of lowly Cornell.
By now, the excuses that have characterized this season have grown old — we must all come to terms with the fact that it’s a young team, playing a new offense.
But for coach Kerry Carr, there is no place for excuses and there never has been.
“They have to step up — we have serious problems staying at a high level for a whole match,” Carr said after running a tough practice on Tuesday. “When we play at a high level, we can definitely beat these teams.”
They’ll get their chance to prove that Friday at the Palestra against top-ranked rival Princeton.
At a certain level, though, there’s no denying some truths about this crew. Various injuries have ravaged an already young squad struggling to find its way against more experienced teams.
And although junior Amanda Pacheco and injured setter Lauren Martin have led the team by their high performance, Carr simply needs more.
“One or two players step up, but that’s just not enough.” Carr said. “We are trying to push these younger players into figuring out leadership on the court. Last year we had players who were in each other’s face all the time. We’ve just got to push.”
Pushing at the end of the match has been the biggest struggle for this season’s version of the Quakers. They have gone into six five-set matches and lost them all, with four of them coming in conference play. Four were also lost by just two points, the smallest advantage by which a team can win a five-set match. Flip those games around, and the Quakers are tied for first with Yale.
“At first, we were tentative about five-set matches and didn’t play hard enough,” Carr said. “Now, we are overly aggressive in them and make costly mistakes that cost us the game.”
Simple mistakes have undoubtedly proved detrimental to the Red and Blue, and it will be interesting to see how the team will respond in the second half of Ivy play.
“The team knows that our losses, with exception to one, were close losses and that we could have done little things differently to win. Now it’s a clean slate — what are we going to do about it? Are we going to go out there tougher, smarter and stronger? Or are we going to go back with our tail between our legs?”
Pacheco didn’t even have to think about her answer.
“We’ll turn it around — we’re excited to prove ourselves,” she said. “It’s a clean slate, and we get to play them all again. We had the opportunity to beat all of those teams, so now we’re excited to take that opportunity.”
“It’ll be a great second round of the season,” she added.
IKE ONYEADOR is a sophomore urban studies major from Phoenix, Ariz. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.