On a weekend where it really started to feel like autumn in the Northeast, the Penn volleyball team travelled to New England to enjoy the fall foliage and a mostly encouraging start to its Ivy League schedule. The Quakers (13-6, 1-1 Ivy League) dropped a gut-wrenching, five-game decision to Dartmouth on Friday in Hanover, N.H., but recovered in time to travel to Cambridge, Mass., and confidently dispose of Harvard on Saturday, 15-12, 15-11, 15-13. Although Penn would have loved to emerge from the 17-15 final game at Dartmouth victorious, the youthful Quakers know they should be proud of their ability to bounce back and take care of the Crimson the following night. "Am I pleased? Yes and no," Penn junior Kelly Szczerba said. "We had a big disappointment at Dartmouth. But these are two teams at about the same talent level, and we took what we learned at Dartmouth and changed what we needed to in order to beat Harvard." The Red and Blue came out with guns ablazin' on Friday night. In the first two games of the match, Penn downed the Big Green, 15-10 and 15-11. It looked as if the Quakers were primed to open the Ancient Eight season with a bang. Last October, the Quakers lost to Dartmouth 3-0 in their third Ivy league contest. That defeat also marked their third-straight Ivy loss. Early on Friday, however, it seemed as if coach Kerry Major's team was determined to begin its 2000 conference season on a much sweeter-sounding note. But that was not to be. The Quakers didn't exactly turn into Mr. Hyde in Friday's last three games, but they definitely underwent something of a transformation. Penn no longer seemed to be out for blood down the stretch. "I think we let down our guard," Penn freshman Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan said. "We didn't have the killer instinct that we needed to win." Dartmouth made use of 14 Penn service errors to stage a stirring comeback. The home team bested the Quakers 15-11 in the third and then pulled out wins in the final two games by the narrowest of margins, 19-17 and 17-15. Kwak-Hefferan led the Penn attack with 15 kills and 16 digs. Fellow freshman Heather Janssen notched 12 kills, and Szczerba recorded a team-high 18 digs and a season-high 11 total blocks in the loss. The sting of the loss in New Hampshire had to still been on the Quakers' mind the next afternoon at Harvard, but coach Major made sure her troops took the right lesson from the defeat. "She [Major] told us before the Harvard game that she knows we're a good team this year," Szczerba said. "She said we played too tentatively against Dartmouth. We didn't play to win. We played not to lose." The Crimson (7-9, 1-1 Ivy League) were coming off a tough loss of their own on Friday, having dropped a 3-2 match to Princeton the previous evening. Harvard hung tight throughout. Penn's largest margin of victory was a four-point edge in the second game. "It was a fun match to play," Kwak-Hefferan said. Penn sophomore Stacey Carter turned in a stellar afternoon, with a .500 hitting percentage and 15 kills. Kwak-Hefferan aded 13 kills and 15 digs, while Szczerba finished with 14 kills and 10 digs. After the grueling road trip, the fatigued Quakers took yesterday off. They return to practice today and will take on Villanova tomorrow at home.Comments powered by Disqus
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