This weekend the Penn volleyball team hopes history repeats itself. In 1989, the Quakers, ranked fifth in the Ivy league, beat favorite Yale to win the Ivy league title. The Red and Blue, seeded fifth again this year, travel to Providence, R.I., this weekend to play Princeton in the first round, hoping to rekindle some of that 1989 magic and win the Ivy League title. "We are as ready as we're going to be," Penn coach Kerry Major said. The Quakers (9-14, 2-5 Ivy League) gained confidence with an encouraging showing at the Yale Tournament last weekend. In New Haven, the Quakers beat Manhattan 3-1 and Colgate 3-2. Penn was even more encouraged after good practices during the week in which the team worked on weaknesses from the weekend including short passing and blocking on the right side. The Quakers face rival Princeton (15-10, 5-2) in the first round of the tournament. The Tigers won the regular season meeting 3-0, by game scores of 15-4, 15-12, 15-3. "We played the Tigers and all of the Ivy teams so early in the season," Major said. "We have improved so much since then." In the last match against Princeton, it was passing errors that killed Penn. The team recorded a 1.2 passing statistic out of a possible three, meaning most balls were unhittable. The Quakers know that in the re-match the passing game cannot falter. Defense will be the other key to a Penn win. "Our defense must be indomitable," Major said. "We must be able to get all the balls up at all times during the match." The Quakers are playing with more confidence this time as well. Mental toughness has been a primary concern throughout the season. The team believes that it has overcome that obstacle. "We're as mentally ready as we can be," Major said. "We've always been ready to win the tournament," senior Sue Sabatino said. "We are more confident in ourselves, and I know if we put all aspects of our game together, we can win the tournament." If the Red and Blue should falter during the Princeton match, they will still be alive because the tournament is double elimination. Major, however, concedes that it is hard to win the tournament playing through the losers' bracket. Win or lose, the Quakers will play either Dartmouth or Cornell in the second round. Penn defeated Cornell 3-0 two weeks ago while they lost to Dartmouth 3-0 early in October. Dartmouth is favored in this match, so even if Penn beats Princeton, the Quakers know they have a hard road in front of them. One disadvantage the Quakers face is the loss of senior middle blocker Karen Lewis. Lewis, who has helped the team greatly this season, has a sprained ankle and is not expected to play. Freshman Kelly Szczerba is expected to take her place. "Szczerba covers really well, but we will miss Karen because of her experience," Major said. In practice on Wednesday, Major read the November 1989 copy of Pennsport magazine about the volleyball team to motivate her players. If the Quakers can take this motivation and put all aspects of the game together, perhaps one day a coach will read to her team about the 1998 Penn Quakers.Comments powered by Disqus
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