The past 17 matches no longer matter for the Penn volleyball team. Everything goes right out the window, and what matters now is the beginning of the Ivy League season. The Quakers begin their Ivy League schedule tonight against a formidable Dartmouth team. Although the Big Green have struggled to obtain consistency throughout the beginning of their season, they still swept the Quakers in three games last season. "These upcoming matches are pretty much our first test to put it together with a team that's about the same level, if not better," Penn coach Kerry Major said. For Penn's freshmen, this weekend will also provide an opportunity to prove themselves in the Ivy League. The Quakers will also travel to Harvard to take on the Crimson tomorrow at 4 p.m. "We want to establish Penn as the team to beat this season and to show the other teams that we're something to be reckoned with," Penn freshman outside hitter Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan said. Dartmouth has thus far been a very streaky team. It opened the season with five losses, followed by five wins. Tonight the Big Green will be trying to snap their current four-game losing streak. Dartmouth will be depending on junior co-captain Ashley Dean, an outside hitter with a quick arm, to perform especially well. Dean, the first Ivy League Player of the Week this season and a first team All-Ivy selection during her sophomore year, will likely provide most of the offense alongside senior co-captain Jessica Wirth at the middle blocker position. Dartmouth, however, will certainly have its hands full against Penn. Heading into tonight's match, the Quakers are riding a five-game winning streak, dating back to their September 23 victory against Florida Atlantic at the Georgetown Invitational. "I'm looking for my team to really show what we've accomplished preseason, which is to come out strong on defense, passing and serving," Major said. "We've finally gotten into rhythm with our offense." A perfect example of the all-around play that Major has come to expect from her players this season is junior outside hitter Stephanie Horan. Horan, one of three juniors on a team with no seniors, currently leads the team in kills per game (2.37) and digs per game (3.70). In last year's match, Dartmouth convincingly defeated Penn, 3-0. The Crimson (7-7) also bested Penn in their last meeting, eking out a five-set victory in the opening round of the Ivy Tournament last year. Harvard went on to finish second at the league championship. Major will be looking to Kwak-Hefferan, Horan and junior middle blocker Kelly Szczerba to carry the team this weekend. Kwak-Hefferan has performed like a veteran during the pre-conference season, despite being a freshman. Going into tonight's match, she is leading the team in kills (122) and digs (201). "I've been working for this for a long time, and I can't wait to see how we're gonna perform," Kwak-Hefferan said. Penn has the skills and physical talent they need to match up well against other teams in the Ivy League. "All eight teams are pretty even this year," Major said. "So it's the one that's stronger mentally that will win this weekend."Comments powered by Disqus
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