The Quakers will try to eliminate mental errors and break a six-game losing streak against the Wildcats. Tom Petty said, "The waiting is the hardest part." For the Penn volleyball team, the waiting has certainly been difficult. The Quakers (5-11) are on a six-game losing streak and are desperately waiting for the pieces of their game to fall into place. They hope their turnaround can occur tonight at 7 p.m. in the Palestra against Villanova (10-11). "Villanova is one of the toughest teams we have to play this year," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "They're in the top half of the Big East and we're not only going to have to be at the top of our physical game, but also our mental game -- two things we haven't been for three weeks now." The mental aspect of volleyball is where Penn has struggled the most lately. To combat the mental lapses, the Quakers have been enduring mentally challenging practices. These practices, according to Major, have been successful, even though the Quakers have yet to win an Ivy League match-up. "We're continuing the mental drills," she said. "The practices have been great, but we need to figure out how to get tougher." As far as the physical aspect of the game is concerned, the team believes that there is no specific area in which it has been extremely good or bad. "Physically, we've been up and down with everything, and I know we've done everything up at one time or another, so I think if we put it all together mentally, we'll be in good shape," Major said. Penn co-captain Katy Stock said she agrees that not only have different areas of Penn's game had highs and lows, but so have all the players. "Every game, everyone has had their ups and downs, and no person on the team has been completely consistent," Stock said. "There's not one person on the team this year who is the go-to hitter. This year, it takes a full team effort." Stock referred back to last year adding that in the 1997 season, graduate Jessica Leftman was the go-to hitter. This year, however, all players must contribute. "I don't think we need one outstanding person to be successful," she said. "I believe we're the most talented team to come through Penn in a long time. We just have to put it together mentally." Mentally and physically, the Quakers run into some stiff competition in Villanova. Despite having a 10-11 record and losing four in a row, the Wildcats are near the top of the Big East. In addition, they have some star players including outside hitter Megan O'Brien, who was All-Big East last season. Setter Cathy Arnette and outside hitter Ann Blankenheim are two other key players who starred for 'Nova in their last match versus St. John's. Arnette recorded 38 assists while Blankenheim scored 13 kills in the loss to the Red Storm. Major isn't so concerned about facing such a difficult competitor. "We have nothing to lose," Major said. "We're expected to lose, they're expecting to beat us. Without that pressure, maybe we can do some things that I know we can do, and that we have been doing in practice." Stock concurred with Major. "Going into a game I would rather be the underdog because the pressure is off," Stock said. She added that although the team wasn't happy about it, having a low seed in the Ivy League tournament could prove to be advantageous. "Teams like Harvard and Dartmouth have the pressure to do well," she said. "Sometimes, it's better to go into the tournament, work really hard and, hopefully, be the Cinderella team of the season." While being a Cinderella team would be a great ending to the season, if the Quakers do not pull themselves together mentally, the Red and Blue might be waiting for 1999. And that could be the hardest part.Comments powered by Disqus
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