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Volleyball vs. Columbia Credit: Thando Ally , Thando Ally

The women’s volleyball team needed to use its annual Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational to get back on track after a rough start to the 2013 season.

After a 2-1 weekend with multiple five-set wins, the Quakers (3-4) are definitely on the right path.

“I’m extremely happy with how the girls played this weekend,” coach Kerry Carr said. “They really gave it their all and I believe they were rewarded.”

Sophomore Jasmine DeSilva, who played strongly all weekend, echoed Carr’s sentiments.

“The weekend went really well,” DeSilva said. “There were a lot of ups and downs but that’s a part of the game.”

On the flip side, the growing pains of a young team missing key pieces due to personal reasons and injuries, and still figuring out its rotation are showing themselves early on.

“We’re still figuring lineups out,” Carr said. “The good thing about having injuries early is that we can really find out how deep our team is, and that’ll help us when they inevitably happen throughout the course of the year.”

The Quakers opened the weekend with a three-game sweep at the hands of American (10-0). The Eagles went undefeated throughout the weekend, never being seriously challenged for first place.

“It was tough opening the weekend knowing we’d have to face a strong team in American with Dani Shepherd out due to injury and Susan Stuecheli working her way back,” Carr said. “I was pleasantly surprised with just how well the girls did.”

But the team knew Sunday was the perfect opportunity to turn the weekend around.

Its first opportunity was against Temple, and the Quakers rose to the occasion, winning their second five-set match of the season.

DeSilva led the team in kills with 19, but also received plenty of help from her teammates.

“My teammates contributed to my play this weekend,” DeSilva said. “Volleyball is not a one-man game and so all the communication and great sets really helped me out.”

Sophomore Alexis Genske, replacing the injured Shepherd, finished with 30 digs, while senior Kristin Etterbeek contributed 16 kills and 13 digs of her own.

“Etterbeek was our star this weekend,” Carr said. “With the other captains out with injuries, she really put the team on her shoulders and carried us to victory.”

The five-set match against Temple (7-2) would not be the only five-set match they’d play Sunday.

The Quakers came out sluggish against Weber State (4-9) with seemingly every hit returned back by the Wildcats’ strong core of blockers.

But after losing two of the first three sets, the Red and Blue fought back with a 25-18 win in the fourth set. It came down to their second five-set match of the weekend, and the Quakers took it easily, 15-10.

Etterbeek led the team with 13 kills while Genske finished with a team-high 21 digs.

“Genske really played amazing for us this weekend,” Carr said. “She looked like she had played libero her whole life out there, even though this was her first time.”

The biggest area for improvement over the weekend was the lack of blocking as the Red and Blue were out-blocked 31.5 to 16 during the weekend.

“We knew blocking might be a weakness for us this season,” Carr admitted. “I was very happy with how the girls did against Temple, but the first and last games were more along the lines of where I think we are at.

“We’ll definitely work on it and improve throughout the season.”


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