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Maybe it was New England's beautiful fall foliage that distracted the Penn volleyball team this weekend. But regardless of the reason, Penn (5-10, 0-5 Ivy League) lost both of its matches this weekend -- 3-0 to Dartmouth (14-2, 4-0) and 3-2 to Harvard (6-14, 3-1). The team has now lost its last five matches and 15 of its last 17 games. Making matters worse, since the Quakers cannot identify the problem, they are going to have trouble coming up with a solution. "There is not a specific problem that we can work on in practice," co-captain Katy Stock said. "Our problems seem to be mental." Stock pointed out many instances in both matches over the weekend where long rallies would end in mental errors by the Quakers. "We would put the ball over 30 times, but the rally would end in a mental mistake," she said. "At times, it seemed like the other team wanted it more." The mental aspect of volleyball is not as easy to practice as the physical, but the Quakers are trying to fix their mental lapses by practicing drills that focus on volleyball's mental elements. "We're doing drills that we really have to exert ourselves," Stock said. "We keep going even when we think we can't. Hopefully, these drills will prepare us for the weekend." Despite the lopsided score, Friday's game against Dartmouth lasted over two hours. Penn steadily gained momentum throughout the three games, losing 16-14 in the final game. "During the middle of the third match I really thought we could turn it around," Penn junior Sue Sabatino said. "We put up a good fight, we were just not mentally there." Saturday's game with Harvard was even closer, as Penn had a 2-1 lead going into the fourth game. But the Quakers couldn't hold on, losing the last two games. "We had a let-down in the fourth game," Stock said. "We expected that game to come easily to us, and it didn't." What makes the weekend losses harder to accept is that, fundamentally, the Red and Blue played well. "Against Princeton, our passing lost us the game, and versus Brown, we played awful defense," Stock said. "This weekend, we were statistically equal." As for the Ivy league stigma, Sabatino believes that the quality of play in the league is no better than the team's out-of-conference opponents. "The Ivy league teams are not harder," Sabatino said. "Mentally, that's what we believe, though." With a non-league opponent up next in St. Peters, the Quakers have to hope that their mental breakdowns do not carry over.

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