Ivy League madness continues at the Palestra for the Penn volleyball team this weekend. Penn (14-6, 1-1 Ivy League) will play the Brown Bears (9-5, 1-0) at 7 p.m. tomorrow, and will take on the Yale Elis (11-4, 1-1) on Saturday at 4 p.m. Playing at the Palestra this weekend may help the Quakers avenge their straight-game losses to both teams last year. "We are on a home court, and that's a huge advantage," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "The wins are up to us playing all the way up to our potential as last weekend." Last weekend, Penn split its Ivy League matches, losing a marathon to Dartmouth, 3-2, and defeating Harvard, 3-0. The Bears, Penn's first opponent of the weekend, are led by 1998 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Corre Myer. Now a junior, Myer has quarterbacked the Bears' offense from the setter position since joining the team her freshman year, when the Bears captured the Ivy League Championship. "I think it's gonna be a battle, and the team that plays their hardest is gonna win," Major said. Brown has most of its players back from last season, but the team will definitely miss the presence of outside hitter Tomo Nakanishi, the 1998 Ivy League Player of the Year, who graduated last spring. Nakanishi was Brown's go-to hitter, finishing first in the Ivy League last season in kills per game (4.29), and third in digs per game (4.30). "They're the same team as last year in my opinion, except they don't have Tomo," Major said. "We're expecting to be in the position to beat them, but we have to play our best." Penn junior outside hitter Stephanie Horan is also excited to host the perennially tough Bears. "We go in and expect to win a game. We don't go in cocky; we're not above the other teams," Horan said. "But we go in with the confidence that we can do it and I think that helps a lot." Penn's match against Yale will be equally tough, if not tougher. The Elis have outplayed all their opponents thus far in almost every category, including kills, digs and aces. Yale's go-to hitter on Saturday night will be junior outside hitter Vanessa Herald, who leads the team in kills (144), digs (152) and aces (25). Yale has been quite possibly the hottest team in the Ivy League, winning eight in a row -- all in straight games -- before losing to Cornell 3-0 last weekend. The Elis will be one of Penn's first opponents this year that can match the Quakers' prowess at the net. Yale currently leads the Ivy League in team blocks per game (2.70). The Elis' dominance at the net is in large part due to junior middle blocker Carissa Abbott, a second team All-Ivy selection last year. Abbott leads the Ivy League in blocks per game (1.34). Also contributing is senior middle blocker Colette Fitzgerald, a three-time All-Ivy honorable mention selection. In its match against Yale, Penn will also encounter tough serving. Yale has three players on the top-10 Ivy League service aces list. One of Penn's strategies against the Elis will be to wear them out. In their 15 matches so far, Yale has only played one match that has gone beyond three games. They may not be accustomed to the long, drawn-out matches Penn has come to expect lately. Penn will continue to rely on a spread-out offense to win. In Penn's starting lineup, all five hitters in the 5-1 offense average at least two kills per game, with Horan leading the way (2.44). "I think it's more like a well-rounded effort from everyone rather than one person or two people stepping it up," Major said. The Quakers will also rely on their dominating defense, which has been problematic for opposing teams all year. Penn is currently first as a team in the Ivy League in digs per game (18.18), and second in blocks per game (2.39). One reason why Penn has out-blocked their opponents 180.5 to 107.5 is middle blocker Kelly Szczerba. The junior from East Meadow, N.Y., leads the team in blocks (81) and blocks per game (1.27), and is currently second in the Ivy League in both categories.Comments powered by Disqus
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