The Penn volleyball team found success against non-Ivy teams at the Yale Tournament. When Penn's volleyball players started practicing this summer, they faced the challenges of a new coach and a new system. Their goal was to improve with every game and reach its peak for the Ivy League tournament in mid-November. The Quakers (9-14) made great strides toward that goal last weekend, taking two out of three matches at the Yale tournament in New Haven. Penn defeated Manhattan 3-1 and Colgate 3-2, but lost to Bucknell 3-1. "We have improved on everything we needed to in order to win the Ivies," Penn coach Kerry Major said. Major was especially pleased with the improvement of the Quakers' defense, which became more dominant as the weekend progressed. What made the weekend so favorable was Penn's ability to put its entire game together. "Throughout the season, we've always had one aspect of the game go wrong," junior Sue Sabatino said. "But this weekend, everything seemed to click." Major agreed with Sabatino that when the team comes together, they are capable of beating anyone in the Ivy League. "We've only [come together] a couple times this season, but when we do, we definitely have the ability to win," Major said. Penn's first match of the weekend was against Manhattan (9-24). The Quakers disposed of the Jaspers in four games, 17-15, 15-8, 10-15 and 15-13. Key players in the match were freshman Stephanie Horan, who recorded seven service aces, and Sabatino, who had 22 kills and a .321 attack percentage. "We were up and down during the match, but they were an easy team, so we were able to come through and win," Major said. "We really excelled in the strong parts of our game, including serving aces and blocking," she added. The Red and Blue have a few players at the top of the Ivy League in hitting percentage,and the team ranks first in serving aces and blocking. Penn's middle match was a morning contest against Bucknell (12-9) for which the Quakers never really awoke. "We couldn't pass against Bucknell," Co-Captain Katy Stock said. "And when we don't pass, our entire game falls apart." Despite fiddling around with its lineups and not being accustomed to morning matches, the Quakers are not making excuses. "If we play like we played against the Bisons in the tournament next weekend, we will lose, and it is very hard to win the Ivies going through the losers bracket," Major stated. The Quakers' final game was against Colgate (13-14), a team which Penn had beaten earlier in the season. But according to Sabatino, that was not the reason the Quakers won the second meeting. "During the Colgate game, we played with a lot more intensity, which made all parts of our game come together," she said. "We were a little more confident considering we beat them already, but that didn't have much to do with it because we've lost to a lot of teams we should have beaten throughout the season." Major was the happiest with the Colgate match because Penn put everything together when they had to in the fifth game. "Colgate was a lot tougher this time, and I knew we had to be perfect for the game," she said. "Even though it took us until the fifth game to fully click, as long as it happened, I am happy." Despite the promising performances against Colgate and Manhattan, the Quakers still have some aspects of the game upon which to improve. "We couldn't pass the short ball this weekend," Stock said. "We also have to work on blocking on the right side," she added. Having lost to Princeton already this season, the Quakers know it will take more than an outstanding physical performance to beat the Tigers in the first round of the Ivy tournament on Thursday. "We have a lot to overcome mentally," Major said. But if the Red and Blue can build on last weekend's victories in practice, the team's pre-season goal will certainly be within reach.Comments powered by Disqus
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