The Penn volleyball team continues to show the rest of the Ivy League that talent is the only substitute for experience. The extremely young Quakers (16-6) improved to 3-1 in the Ivy League with a hard-fought win over Brown and a surprisingly easy win against Yale this past weekend at the Palestra. Penn's first match of the weekend against Brown proved to be quite a struggle as the Bears went up in the match, first 1-0 and then 2-1. The Quakers, however, showed a great deal of grit in refusing to lose at home, and actually seemed to dominate Brown in the final two games. "We're really happy with the way the season is going because we're doing so well in league play," freshman Heather Janssen said. "We just have to keep taking everything one game at a time and not worry about anything else." The Bears (9-7, 1-2 Ivy League) gave Penn plenty to worry about Friday evening, and it took some clutch performances to hang on for the come-from-behind win. In fact, the games were so evenly played that, incredibly, both teams ended the night with 61 kills and 108 digs. Freshman Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan was integral to the Quakers' success, tallying 15 kills and 10 digs, as well as two service aces. Junior Kelly Szczerba also turned in an outstanding all-around game with 13 kills, 15 digs and eight blocks. Szczerba has been a defensive force all year for the Quakers and has 95 total blocks -- 30 more than Janssen, who is currently second. Compared to the dogfight against Brown, Penn's win against Yale was basically a cakewalk. The Quakers were never tested against a Yale team that never mustered more than nine points in a game in their 3-0 loss. "We have been much better about taking care of the teams that we should beat lately," Janssen said. "We've just been focusing on having really good warm-ups before the game and then just carrying it over. Earlier on, we would kind of coast through warm-ups, and it would show early in the match." Penn's drubbing of the Elis earned the Quakers their first 16-win season since 1996 and marked the 11th time this season that they have won a match 3-0. Penn was clearly the superior team in the match, finishing with a hitting percentage of .253. The best Yale could muster was a measly .071. Penn junior Stephanie Horan was a key defensive player, complementing her seven kills with 17 digs. Sophomore Stacey Carter also played well, with a hitting percentage of .381. Penn now sits precariously in a three-way tie for second place in the Ivies, along with Dartmouth and this Friday's opponent, Princeton. "The big thing for us right now is just to continue to improve because we know everyone else in our league is going to," Janssen said. "The match against Princeton will be big for us, because hopefully we can separate ourselves from the pack a little bit." It's quite a refreshing change for the Quakers to be dissatisfied with sitting second in the Ancient Eight. Last year, the team finished a mediocre 15-15 (3-4 in the Ivies). "I don't think very many people expected us to be doing this well just because of how young we are," Janssen said. "But that doesn't bother us at all. We just want to focus on what's important and position ourselves for the Ivy League tournament." The young Quakers should have a good opportunity to fine-tune their game for the big match against Princeton when the team faces a struggling Lafayette team tonight at 7 p.m. in the Palestra. "We don't look at this game as a break, because it gives us a chance to work on some things and make sure anyone can come in the game for us when we need them," Janssen said. "We feel like we have a really deep bench, and this game should help us make sure everyone is ready for the tournament."Comments powered by Disqus
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