When the freshmen of one team outplay the starting lineup of another, it's obvious which team has depth on its side. That's what Penn showed last night as it defeated hapless Lafayette, 3-0, at the Palestra. Penn has now won five straight and 10 of its last 11 matches. In last night's match, Penn coach Kerry Major decided to start a lineup of six freshmen. "Everyone needs to be ready to play at all times as we near the end of the season," Major said. "By working on our depth, we're gonna become a better team in the Ivies than other teams that only have a starting six." Despite having six freshmen on the court, the Quakers were able to avoid letting the pressure get to them. "We've all been on top level club teams, and so we've all been starters before," freshman outside hitter Katie Brandt said. "You just have to take that in mind, step on the court and relax." Both Penn (17-6) and Lafayette (1-19) started the match sluggishly. Neither team seemed to be mentally focused. Capitalizing on a few Penn hitting errors, Lafayette jumped out in front, 7-4. It looked as if the Leopards might finally win their seventh game of the entire season. However, the Quakers would come back. As a result of great floor defense, which has come to characterize the Penn team, the Quakers obtained the lead at 8-7 and never looked back. The Red and Blue would go on to win the first game, 15-9. In the second game, Penn took the early lead, 8-1. Seeing that his team was struggling to sideout, Lafayette coach Jeff Corpora tried a variety of strategies. He tried using players off the bench; he tried rearranging the floor defense; and he tried to reorganize his blocking strategy. None of these tactics were successful, however, and Penn went on to win the second game, 15-8. The third game was essentially a repeat of the first two. Penn quickly obtained a 7-2 lead, forcing Corpora to use a timeout. At first, the timeout seemed ineffective, as Penn tacked on three more points to make the score 10-2. After some miscommunication on the floor by the Quakers, however, Lafayette ran six straight points to get within two of the Red and Blue. That's when Major decided her team needed a TO of its own. "We started losing confidence, not talking and not moving," Major said after the game. "It was a matter of a couple of players getting down on themselves." Major pulled a few players aside and told them to turn their emotions into positive energy, and her advice was very effective. The Quakers went on to win the third game, 15-12, and the match. The keys to success last night for the Quakers were their dominating blocking ability and agile movement on the floor. Another contributing factor was Lafayette's lack of height, with the team having no players over 5'11". Brandt's one solo block and four block assists equaled the blocking statistics for the entire Lafayette team. She also had 15 digs, three behind freshman Meghan Schloat's 18 digs. Penn spread out its offense the same way it has all season. Brandt led the Quakers in kills (12), and freshman outside hitter Emily Reynolds added 10 kills en route to leading the Red and Blue in hitting percentage (.333). Freshman middle blocker Lauren Purdo and freshman weak side hitter Lauren Carter added nine kills each. Despite being dominant the entire match, the players still feel that there is room for the team to improve. "[We need to work on] communicating on the court, being more aggressive and not so tentative," Brandt said. The two bright spots for the Leopards last night were senior outside hitter Michelle Calvo and freshman outside hitter Caroline Eshman. Calvo and Eshman combined for 22 kills and 30 digs. The Quakers will travel to Princeton on Friday to take on the Tigers at 7 p.m.Comments powered by Disqus
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