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Volleyball captain Kathryn Turner (4) will need to guide a relatively inexperienced Penn team if the Quakers hope to win the Ivy League.

If Penn's volleyball team wants to improve upon last season's second-place Ivy League finish, it needs to fill the hole in the middle of its defense. On Friday, Bowling Green exposed it as ball after ball dropped - as if in slow motion - between two or three players who stood by idly watching.

The defense should be set with a talented libero like Madison Wojciechowski, who set the single-season school record for digs last year, as a freshman.

But Wojciechowski only began picking up the middle against Bowling Green after coach Kerry Carr moved her from her normal floor post to one further back, allowing her to better react to tips and setter dumps.

"[Wojciechowski] couldn't be on her way back when the ball was tipped ," Carr said. "She had to be coming forward."

The adjustment was a successful stop-gap in the Bowling Green game, but if Carr has to count on Wojciechowski to plug the middle every game, the Quakers will become vulnerable elsewhere on the court. The rest of the team's backcourt must improve its passing and awareness to complement Wojciechowski.

One of the reason's for Penn's struggles against Bowling Green's strong middle attack was the youth in Carr's lineup for the first two sets. She started five players against the Falcons who saw little action in the win over Fairfield earlier that day. The new lineup lacked the passing skill that the Quakers showed off against the Stags.

These new players must develop their ability to pick up the middle if they hope to crack the starting lineup when Ivy season arrives.

"Coach [Carr] mixes up the lineups a lot in preseason getting all the players out there, getting a lot of playing experience for the younger girls and also seeing who's going to get the starting lineup as Ivy season rolls around," senior captain Kathryn Turner said.

Some of the young Quakers, however, showed promise and should compete for the starting lineup right away.

"It was nice to see our other outside hitters come forth, Shannon [Moody] and Elizabeth [Semmens]," Carr said. "They're roomates and battling for a spot out there as outside hitter, and they did good at different times and at different things."

Moody started the Fairfield game and registered three kills and three digs, while Semmens shined against Bowling Green with 10 kills and 10 digs.

Freshman Virginia Senf and sophomore Brit Danneman were impressive on the offensive end, combining for 19 kills.

"I feel like I have a lot of depth now to choose from," Carr said.

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