Facing match point against Bowling Green on Friday, junior Anne Magnuson rose high above the right side of the net and slammed a cross-court kill to keep the Penn volleyball team alive.
The Quakers had already turned a 22-17 first-set deficit against Fairfeld into a straight-set win earlier that day. And after Magnuson staved off defeat in the third set, Penn clawed its way to its second comeback of the day, forcing a decisive fifth. Yet the Falcons held on, 15-8, forcing the Red and Blue to settle for a split at the Palestra.
Penn won a season opener for the first time since 2004, with its comeback demoralizing the Stags (2-4) in the process.
"To me, we broke them at that point," Penn coach Kerry Carr said, referring to the critical first-set juncture. "They were giving it their all and they had us and didn't put us away."
With all the momentum in the match, the Quakers (1-1) easily disposed of the Stags in the next two sets. Sophomore Julia Swanson made her presence felt all over the court, registering 15 kills and nine digs, while senior captain Kathryn Turner added eight kills.
Against Bowling Green (5-2), Carr opted to sit the pair to give freshman Virginia Senf and sophomores Nicole DeCuir and Britt Danneman -some action.
The young Quakers struggled with Bowling Green's strong servers, especially senior middle blocker Kendra Halm, whose serve aces gave the Falcons some early momentum.
Meanwhile, the Falcons took advantage of Turner's absence, dominating the middle and winning the first two sets, 25-18 and 27-25.
"Our middles are generally the strength of our team," said Bowling Green assistant coach Mark Hardaway, filing in for head coach Denise Van De Walle, who is in China coaching the US volleyball team at the Paralympics.
Carr put Swanson and Turner back in the game for the third set. With the help of their captain's leadership, the Quakers picked up their defensive intensity.
"In games three and four, [the Quakers] outworked us defensively," Hardaway said. "We came to a timeout at one point and our team was like 'Man, they're digging everything.'"
In the third, the two squads were tied at 25 for the second straight set. On consecutive kills by Magnuson and Swanson, Penn took the set, 28-26.
Penn kept the comeback alive throughout the next set. Danneman controlled the net, killing two free balls on the first hit and combining with Turner on a strong left-side block to help the Quakers take a 15-10 lead, and eventually, the set, 25-22.
But up 8-7 in the fifth, the Red and Blue committed five hitting errors, helping Bowling Green rattle off eight straight points to take the match.
"We definitely could've won that last game and probably should have won that last game," Turner said. "But they also have a week experience on us."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.