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Penn freshman Katie Brandt returns the ball against Drexel last week. She had nine kills and four digs against SUNY-Albany at Stony Brook. (Theodore Schweitz/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

The Penn volleyball team clearly showed that it is ready for the Ivy League season, with a perfect 3-0 showing in the Long Island Invitational. With their conference schedule opening later this week, the Quakers may have gotten just the confidence booster they needed. "We came out together as a team right from the start and showed what we could do," freshman Lauren Carter said. "We focused on our side of the court and just focused on playing our best." Penn's only scare of the weekend came in its first match against Stony Brook. The Seawolves were the only team in the tournament to take a game against the Quakers, as Stony Brook fell 3-2. Freshman Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, who tallied 17 kills and 18 digs, played a pivotal role in helping the Quakers avenge last year's Palestra loss to the Seawolves. Junior Kelly Szczerba also shined for Penn, turning in an impressive all-around game with nine kills, 14 digs and seven block assists. Carter nailed 15 kills and chipped in eight digs and six blocks. "Stony Brook was a pretty tough, scrappy team," Kwak-Hefferan said. "They were very good defensively and had some tricky hitters, so we were glad to be able to knock them off." The Quakers' next match would prove to be much easier. Penn rarely looked anything but dominant in destroying Long Island, 15-9, 15-1, 15-4. Junior Stephanie Horan led the Penn attack against the Blackbirds, with eight kills and 10 digs. Kwak-Hefferan continued her strong play, totaling six digs and four kills. "We finally really started playing consistently," Carter said. "We wanted to show that we could come out and just jump on a team, and that's what we did." The Blackbirds looked terrible in the match, with a team hitting percentage of .01. LIU had somehow won five of six matches going into the contest against Penn. The Quakers' final test of the weekend proved nearly as easy as the cakewalk against LIU. SUNY-Albany put up little resistance and fell to the Quakers 15-8, 15-4, 15-8. Horan was once again huge for the Quakers, finishing with nine kills and 10 digs. Freshman Katie Brandt also played well, with nine kills and four digs. "We worked a lot on being mentally focused and not having lapses like we have had," Kwak-Hefferan said. Penn will commence the critical Ancient Eight portion of its schedule this Friday against Dartmouth. Penn will be looking to position itself for the all-important Ivy League tournament held in November. "Since we are in the Ivies now, we know that we have to play our best in every game," Carter said. "We're not going to have any easy games. We have to be completely focused every time we go out there." One key for Penn in the Ivies will be using this team's depth to its advantage. The Quakers seem to possess a great deal of versatility with such a deep bench. "I think our depth is our greatest advantage because even though everyone is pressed for their position and for minutes, it means that everyone is pressed to do their best," Carter said. "No one is looking at this from an individual perspective. Everyone is just completely supportive and ready to do whatever they're asked." This Friday, the Penn team will be asked to defeat a Dartmouth team that won last year's encounter 3-0 and trounced the Quakers 15-4 in the final game of that match. "We feel like we've been improving all season, and we definitely improved even over the course of the weekend," Kwak-Hefferan said. "We know that we just need to focus on what we do and we'll be fine."

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