There will not be any upsets at the Ivy League Tournament for women's volleyball in 2001.
And that is because the tournament no longer exists.
For the first time ever, the Ivy League champion of women's volleyball will be determined by double round-robin during the regular season, the same format used in Ivy League basketball.
The previous format, in use since 1977 when Penn was crowned as the first Ivy League women's volleyball champion, consisted of single round-robin play during the regular season. The records determined seeding in the postseason single-elimination tournament, which featured all eight teams.
"The good thing is we are still not playing any conference teams in September," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "What we lose, though, is a little bit of the local flavor. We don't have the luxury of having those Tuesday night games anymore to play area teams."
The local flavor includes three L's -- La Salle, Lafayette and Lehigh -- which were no match for Penn last season. But Major is not concerned about reduced playing time in the Delaware Valley.
"Our goal is to win the Ivy League conference. It's not as much to be ranked regionally," Major said. "Really, only one team from the Ivy League will be selected to go to the NCAAs, and that's the winner of the conference."
There are three other parts to Penn's 2001 schedule, one of which is the annual Sheraton Invitational. This year, the Quakers will host Loyola (Md.), Robert Morris, Northeastern and Drexel at the Palestra on September 21-22.
The other two parts involve traveling to other regions of the country. Major's reasons for departure were very simple.
"If we stayed in this region, we were going to have another 80 percent win streak and not win the conference," Major said. "We need to test ourselves early, find our weaknesses and fix them before we get to the Ivy League matches.
"I'm not saying we're going to win these first couple of matches. But we will be challenged and that's what I'm going for with the stronger schedule."
Penn will open up its season at a tournament in Ohio that runs September 7-8, and will compete against St. Francis (Pa.), Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and Dayton, the host school.
The following weekend, the Quakers will head out to Los Angeles for three matches against California State-Fullerton, Oakland and the University of California-Riverside.
"A lot of people on the team are from the California area, and a lot of our alumni and donors are there," Major said. "So by going there, they get to meet the team and perhaps better support our program."
California is also the home of many of the top junior-level players in the country.
"You're probably looking at the results of us going to San Francisco two years ago," Major said, "as we have three [incoming freshmen] from the San Francisco Bay Area."
And to most volleyball fans -- especially Californians -- the Golden State is considered to be the home of the best volleyball in the United States.
"It's also a pride thing to go out there and beat West Coast teams, if that should happen," said Major, who coached her team to a five-game victory over CS-Fullerton two years ago. "People look at us and realize that we can play volleyball on the East Coast."
The Quakers will get the chance to prove that again this season, but their focus will be on the Ivies as they try to bring the title back to Philadelphia for the first time under Major, and for the first time since 1990.Comments powered by Disqus
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