The Penn volleyball team played well, but came up short in the Ivy League Championship Tournament this past weekend, losing in the league semifinals. The Quakers entered the Malkin Athletic Center in Boston with the No. 2 seed and a very realistic hope that they would meet Princeton in the finals. Penn's first match was against the home team, No. 7 seed Harvard. In the regular season contest between the two teams, Penn easily defeated Harvard, 3-0. This time, however, the match would be much closer. One reason why the Crimson were almost able to pull off the upset was their vast improvement since the two teams first met on October 7. "I think they improved a lot since the last time we met them," Penn freshman Katie Brandt said. "They studied our game, and knew exactly how we were gonna come after them." With the home crowd behind them, the Crimson jumped out to an early lead and took the first game, 15-10. They were up 10-6 when Penn's hitting finally came alive. The Quakers bounced back with a 9-0 run to take the second game, 15-10. Penn and Harvard then took one game each out of the next two. In the fifth and deciding game, the see-saw battle that characterized the match up to that point continued. Penn fought hard and won, 15-11. The Quakers were led by freshman outside hitter Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, who picked up 16 kills and 16 digs. "We were able to keep coming back from runs they made, and we never gave up," Kwak-Hefferan said. "Even if we did get into a little funk, we were able to pull ourselves back out of it." Junior middle hitter Kelly Szczerba, Penn's lone representative on the 2000 Ivy All-Tournament team, continued to dominate at the net. She added her second triple-double in three matches, gathering 15 kills, 12 digs and 13 blocks. Junior Stephanie Horan was stellar in the backcourt, picking up a match-high 31 digs. The Crimson were led by outside hitter Erin Denniston, who finished the regular season atop the Ivy League kills list (357). The Harvard junior out of Irvine, Calif., racked up 20 kills in the five-game marathon match. Penn then awaited the outcome of the match between No. 3 Cornell and No. 6 Brown. The Bears played well, but were unable to contain Cornell's Robin Moore and Jennifer Borncamp. The two amassed 45 kills as Cornell took the match, 3-1. On Saturday, the Quakers met the Big Red at 1 p.m. in the semifinals. Penn was very aware that Cornell would come out on fire in an effort to avenge its 3-0 loss to the Quakers two weeks ago. Cornell would get its revenge, as it downed Penn, 3-1. Cornell took the first game, 15-11, and Penn took the second, 15-12. It looked as if a long match was in store for these two teams. But this would not be the case. After Penn jumped out to the early 4-1 lead, it would never again be on top. Cornell came back in the third game to tie it up at 10-10. The Big Red then went on a 5-0 run to end the third game on top, 15-10. The momentum from this run took Cornell to victory in the fourth game, 15-8, and gave the Big Red a trip to the finals. "They jumped on us right from the start," Brandt said. "They got the momentum; they got the confidence; and they had that the whole game." Cornell's big three came alive in this match. Moore, Borncamp and freshman outside hitter Debbie Quibell -- who were held to just 39 kills and 41 digs in their team's October 27 meeting with the Quakers -- combined for 55 kills and 61 digs on Saturday. Brandt, Szczerba and Kwak-Hefferan were the bright spots for Penn. The three combined for 41 kills, 42 digs and 10 blocks in their team's losing effort. "It was a tough battle," Brandt said. "We stayed with them; we never gave in; and we gave a pretty good effort." In the upper half of the bracket, No. 1 Princeton easily rolled over No. 8 Columbia in straight games, and No. 4 Yale disposed of No. 5 Dartmouth in a similar manner. Princeton and Yale met in the semifinals. The Tigers were too much for the Elis, and Princeton won easily, 3-0. In the finals, Princeton and Cornell both played great matches. The two teams were tight throughout the match, but Princeton came out with the eventual victory, 3-2. Princeton's victory marks its fifth Ivy League title in seven years. Besides Szczerba, five other players were named to the All-Tournament team. They were Princeton setter Ana Yeorg; Yeorg's teammate outside hitter Kellie Cramm; Yale setter Stephanie McMahon; Cornell's Borncamp; and Borncamp's teammate Moore, who was the tournament MVP.Comments powered by Disqus
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