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With the Penn volleyball team losing no players to graduation last May, there isn't a better time than the upcoming 2001 campaign for the inaugural season of the program's junior varsity team.

"The timing couldn't be more perfect," Penn varsity coach Kerry Major said, "but it's something that's been on [Penn Athletic Director] Steve Bilsky's agenda for awhile, and mine as well. It was a combined effort.

"I've been asking about it the last couple of years, and I think it's on his agenda to get more women in sports here."

The JV team will be comprised predominantly of freshmen and sophomores, with the intention that these women will be varsity-level players when they become upperclassmen.

"I hope that it's a feeder team," Major said. "I only want to run it if it's going to help the varsity get better, because it's so much work to run another team.

"If it detracts at all from my time with the varsity team then it's not worth it unless they are the varsity team eventually."

As a result of the new team, Major's most recent recruiting class was also notably expanded. And filling the remaining spots on the JV team will be a few players from the Penn women's club volleyball team.

Major cited several reasons for wanting a JV team, most significantly that part of the team wasn't getting enough experience on the court.

"I felt like the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th players on the team didn't get playing time as much as the others for obvious reasons," Major said. "Yet they were just as good athletes, they just lacked experience."

This was especially evident earlier this year, when starting middle blocker and unanimous first team All-Ivy selection Kelly Szczerba tore her ACL.

"The middles behind her -- Alyssa [Parsons] and Emily [Reynolds] -- really stepped up and shot through the roof with their playing ability when Kelly tore her ACL," Major said. "They're seeing playing time, they're getting out there under stress and performing.

"If I can get those kids that kind of experience in the fall, think how fast they're going to progress up to varsity and make our whole team better."

Heading the JV team will be Orlin Jespersen, who hitherto has been the Quakers' assistant coach for three years.

"Orlin was really ready last year to be a head coach," Major said. "We kind of talked him into staying on if he could be the head coach of the JV team."

The JV and varsity will train together as one, but will play a very different schedule, as JV teams are limited to 10 matches in a season.

"We set up a schedule against some area Division II and Division III schools, mostly at home," Jespersen said. "We do have one away game, and that is to Newman College in Aston [Pa.]. Otherwise, most of the teams are coming here, schools like Widener, Haverford and West Chester."

The JV team's lone Ivy League opponent of 2001 will be Yale, as the Elis' JV players will travel with the varsity to the Palestra that weekend.

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