The first thing one notices when looking at the stats of the Penn volleyball team is defensive dominance. But once in a while, the team's offense shines through as well. Penn put on one of its best offensive displays of the season last night as it defeated La Salle, 3-1, at Tom Gola Arena. The Quakers have now won 11 of their last 13 matches. Penn (18-7) jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead over La Salle (12-14) in the first game. La Salle responded, however. After the lead grew to 9-3, La Salle junior Kristin Russo was up to serve. Her jump serve, which gave Penn's back row passers major problems all night, earned four straight points for the Explorers and forced Penn coach Kerry Major to use a timeout. "I think it surprised us," sophomore outside hitter Stacey Carter said. "With a team of float servers on their side, a jump server mixed in just kinda throws us off." The timeout produced immediate results. Junior setter Jodie Antypas took the initiative to get a sideout for her team by attacking the ball on the second touch. Antypas would end the night with five kills, which is fairly high for a setter. "They had a wide base on their defense," Antypas said. "The block was not going up with me, so it was easy for me to put it down." The Quakers used that play as a turning point and recaptured the momentum. By going on a 6-0 run after the timeout, Penn won the first game, 15-7. In the second game, the Quakers relied on strong blocking and good floor defense to obtain the early lead. The lead quickly ballooned to 12-4, as La Salle setter Caitlin Keefe had problems connecting with her hitters. Many of her sets were unusually far off the net, forcing her hitters to adjust and making it difficult to get a kill. The Red and Blue went on to win the second game, 15-7. The third game was a different story. After hitting a combined .319 in the first two games, the Quakers started having problems putting the ball down for a kill. There were several lead changes in the early part of the game, and eventually the score was tied at nine. That's when Russo came up to serve again. After three straight service points, including two of her match-total six aces, Penn coach Kerry Major saw the need for another timeout. Despite being able to sideout a couple of times, Penn would eventually drop the game to La Salle, 15-9. The fourth game was even more closely contested. Penn's offense was revived in this game, as the team gathered a combined 21 kills. Strong play at the net from Carter and junior middle blocker Kelly Szczerba kept the Quakers in the game. The two players combined for 13 block assists. "We've been working on blocking in practice for the past couple of days," Carter said. "We've been working on reading [opposing hitters], so I think that came out today." After brief spurts by both teams, the score was tied, 11-11. The Quakers then had problems communicating with each other, and La Salle found itself serving for the game at 14-11. The Quakers then turned themselves around. A bullet from outside hitter Katie Brandt and a block by Carter put Penn within one of tying the game. La Salle coach Jason Klotkowski then called a timeout to get his team to refocus its thoughts. The timeout was to no avail, however. A kill by Brandt and a couple of La Salle hitting errors allowed Penn to complete its comeback and take the fourth game, 16-14, and the match. "We turned it on when it counted," Carter said. "We stepped out there in the last five points. We didn't have any errors and put it away." Brandt led Penn's attack by attaining a match-high 20 kills and hitting an unbelievable .429. The 5'9" freshman from Irvine, Calif., also led the team with 19 digs. "I was just fired up and ready to play," Brandt said. "I didn't want them to win, because we heard that they've beaten us in the past and they're cross-town rivals!" Fellow outside hitter Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan had a great offensive night as well, picking up 18 kills en route to hitting a whopping .425. Penn will have a few days to practice before playing in its fourth and final weekend of Ivy League matches. The Red and Blue will take on Cornell on Friday at 7 p.m. and play their final regular season Ivy League match against Columbia on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both matches will be held at the Palestra.Comments powered by Disqus
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