Ivy League opponents beware -- the Penn volleyball team is living up to its preseason hype.
After plowing through the first half of their Ancient Eight schedule with a 7-0 record, the Quakers appear to be playing as confidently and cohesively as ever under sixth-year coach Kerry Major Carr.
But for a team that's in good position to successfully defend its back-to-back league titles, Penn isn't even close to thinking about the postseason yet.
"The second half [of the league schedule] is much tougher than the first," Carr said. "Each of our opponents has seen us already, and they know our weaknesses."
Among the things with which the Quakers struggled during their first seven Ivy matches were blocking, tip defense and serving.
Penn had a solid week of practice to work on these fundamentals and is positive about its prospects for another 7-0 stint in the second half of the league schedule.
"We have high expectations for the second half," Penn freshman libero Meredith Damore said. "We have a target on our back with the two league championships and no losses so far this season, but if we execute, we can do good things."
The second half begins this weekend, as the Quakers (14-4, 7-0 Ivy) travel north to face Brown (3-12, 2-5) and Yale (11-6, 3-4).
The Bears, who host the Quakers tonight at 7 p.m. at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, R.I., will be the next to try and blemish Penn's 7-0 Ivy record and end its Ivy League winning streak, which now stands at 18 matches.
Earlier this month, in the first meeting of the season between these two teams, the Quakers blanked Brown, winning 30-25, 30-14, 30-22.
Penn held the Bears to a dismal .118 hitting percentage while posting an above-average .298 mark of its own.
Leading the way offensively for the Quakers were seniors Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan and Heather Janssen, who combined for 24 kills against just one hitting error on 48 attempts.
The Elis, who will take their shot at the Quakers tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Payne Whitney Gymnasium in New Haven, Conn., also had a hard time in their first contest against Penn in 2003.
The Quakers posted a 30-16, 30-26, 30-25 victory over Yale on Oct. 10. Five Penn players notched at least 10 kills in the match, while the Elis had just one player in double figures.
But the Quakers are expecting both teams to be significantly tougher this weekend.
"We shell-shocked a lot of our opponents the first time around, like Yale and Brown," Carr said. "They definitely weren't at the top of their game when they played down here [at the Palestra]. So when they're on their home court this weekend, I imagine things will be a little different."
While their opponents' game may be improved, the Quakers don't believe that playing away from the Palestra will negatively affect their own game.
"We've never had a problem playing on the road before, so I don't think it will be any different this weekend," Carr said. "We've been home for awhile, so it'll be nice to get away."Comments powered by Disqus
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