If the Penn volleyball team had any preseason jitters about youth hurting its ability to contend, those concerns continue to dissipate. The Quakers' young players performed brilliantly last night, defeating the Drexel Dragons three games to one. The Quakers (9-5) knew that the Dragons (5-14) would come out gunning for them. "We need to play Penn volleyball all the time," Penn coach Kerry Major said. Penn defeated Drexel earlier in the season in the Sheraton Invitational at the Palestra. The Quakers knew that Drexel would be looking for revenge yesterday. But it was the Quakers who came out on the offensive, acquiring a lead of 12-6 in the first game in less than 20 minutes. The Dragons would respond, however, with big kills from outside hitters Nancy Sgagliardich and Nadine Closs, the team's top hitters. Following a few botched exchanges between Penn's freshman setter Meghan Schloat and junior middle hitter Kelly Szczerba, Drexel found itself within reach of claiming the first game. The Quakers rebounded, going to Szczerba for the sideout. But Drexel continued its run and took the first game, 15-13. "We might've underestimated this team, and it definitely showed in the first set," Szczerba said. After the first game, Major took the "tough love" approach with her team. "People that [wanted] to play hard are gonna be the ones that are out here," Major said bluntly after the match. True to her word, Major started a flock of bench players in the beginning of the second game, including three freshmen. The Quakers heeded the advice of their coach and took the second game, 15-10. Freshman outside hitter Katie Brandt came off the bench to provide some much needed offense. Brandt, who led all hitters with 12 kills, hit a remarkable .455 in the match. The Quakers took the third game convincingly, 15-7. Penn outside hitter Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan dug the big Drexel hitters especially well in the third. She led all Quakers with 19 digs for the night. Kwak-Hefferan also added nine kills. In the fourth game, the Quakers quickly killed any chance of a Drexel comeback. The Quakers opened the set with a 10-0 run, the result of sparkling play at the net by Szczerba, who led all players with nine blocks for the game. Drexel, on the other hand, was unable to effectively use their size, amassing only 10 kills by the entire team during the match. While Penn appeared to dispose of the Dragons effectively, the Quakers were dissatistifed with their performance. "We won, but we should've taken more out of this game than we did," Szczerba said. "We weren't playing up to our potential, and that was one of our goals, to play consistent." It seemed that the Quakers were most disappointed with the mental game, and not their physical skills. "We can compete with pretty much anybody on our schedule, but mentally we have to work on preparing ourselves better," Szczerba said. Major agreed that the Red and Blue need to work on the mental aspect of their game. "We know how to pass, we know how to play defense, we know how to hit better than we did tonight," Major said. "Your physical game's here, but it won't go anywhere without the mental game." On a positive note for the Quakers, Penn's freshmen continued to show last night that they are ready to play at the collegiate level. "They all come from winning high school teams, so most people on our team are leaders," Szczerba said. Major even believed that her freshmen played a better mental game than the veterans, something that should bode well for the Quakers as the season progresses. The Red and Blue's Ivy League season begins on October 6 at Dartmouth.Comments powered by Disqus
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