Volleyball v. Dartmouth Credit: Jake Albano , Jake Albano

The Penn volleyball team has faced several uncertainties and unknowns during its defense of back-to-back Ivy League titles.

But the Quakers have come to count on reliable play from one scintillating freshman.

Outside hitter Emma White has been a critical part of Penn’s regular rotation, quite a feat for a freshman joining such a decorated squad.

“She’s been doing very well,” sophomore middle blocker Susan Stuechelli said. “She really stepped up and took it upon herself to be the best player she can be to help the team and the people around her.”

White is currently in the top five on the team in digs (2nd), service receptions (2nd), kills (3rd) and blocks (5th), a clear sign that the California native is leaving her mark on all aspects of the game.

Those who have watched Penn play this season may know White for her aggressive attacks and high-flying jump-serve, but what coach Kerry Carr appreciates about her freshman is her innate defensive abilities, which aren’t too common among hitters.

“She always seems to keep the ball in play,” Carr said. “She’s able to spin the ball in any way on the court, and her defense gets better with every game.”

Surprisingly enough, despite being a freshman, White has also been lauded for her consistency, offering the same sort of gritty and smart play every day.

“I try to bring consistency to the court,” White said. “Even if I’m not the biggest hitter or blocker, I try to get kills where I can and still play defense and do my part.”

Consistency is something the Quakers have struggled with this season. They’ve lost several close matches and have not been able to string together more than two wins in a row.

As they approach the midway point of the Ivy League season, they host crucial matches this weekend against Brown and Yale, which tied Penn for the league title last year.

Brown (5-11, 1-4 Ivy) enters the contest on a two-game losing streak and has also struggled with consistency this season. Nonetheless, the Bears have been known for their defense and may give fits to a Quakers team that has had its own troubles finding an offensive rhythm.

On the other hand, Yale (11-4, 5-0) has shown exceptionally solid play so far. The Bulldogs are led by several returning players from last year’s title-sharing team, including two-time Player of the Week recipient Kendall Polan and a solid rookie of their own in outside hitter Mollie Rogers.

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