Volleyball v. Villanova 9/4 Credit: Ellen Frierson , Ellen Frierson

With fall break approaching, everyone’s looking for a getaway. The Penn volleyball team is no exception.

The Quakers head to New York this weekend to play Cornell on Friday and Columbia on Saturday.

“The team is looking forward to getting on the road,” Penn coach Kerry Carr said. “We’ve been at home or around home for the last few weekends, and there’s something valuable in getting away from the academic stress for two days.”

While Carr was clearly talking about her players taking some time off from classes, she too has had reason to stress over this early part of the session.

Just over the halfway point of the season, the Quakers (5-8, 1-2 Ivy) have already gone to five-set games four times. They have lost every time.

If the Red and Blue would have pulled out those close games, they would be looking at a 9-4 record and an unblemished slate in the Ivy League.

“We get tentative at the end [of close games] sometimes.” Carr said. “Instead of being aggressive, we kind of pull back a little bit. That’s something that young teams tend to do at the end [of games]. Their thought is, ‘We don’t want to lose,’ as opposed to, ‘We are going to win.’”

Having the wrong mentality has proven costly for these young Quakers. Instead of being first in the conference, they are tied for fifth and have not exactly looked like the dominant two-time Ivy champion teams of the past.

Yet to Carr, that’s completely expected for what she acknowledged would be a “growing season.”

“There’s no way we look at this year as a three-peat season — we’re a completely different team than the last two,” she said. “We lost six seniors; everything has changed. It’s not about repeating what just happened, [winning the Ivy league] definitely has to happen a different way this year.”

While winning the Ivy title is within the Quakers’ reach — they are only two games behind the number-one spot — they must first dispose of Cornell (3-11, 0-3 Ivy) and Columbia (8-5, 2-1 Ivy). For Carr, that’s not only the goal, but also the expectation.

“Cornell and Columbia are two teams that are just like us. They are young and have been up and down this season. The team that is steady and strong from start to finish will come out on top easily in both games.”

When asked who would be more of a challenge, Carr was honest yet cautious as well.

“I think we’re going to beat one team pretty easily, and the next night we have to be careful not to get too comfortable, but to come out strong and patient as we did the night before,” she said. “If we don’t get too excited, we’re going to be fine.”

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