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At just 5-foot-6 inches, Dani Shepherd stood head over heels against everyone in the Ivy League last season.

Finishing with 617 digs, Shepherd had exactly 216 more digs than her closest competitor in the Ancient Eight, fellow Quakers standout Emma White.

Shepherd’s dig production was so superb that she ranked first in all of Division I volleyball in digs per set at 6.56 — more than 1.5 digs better than the next best player in the Ivy League, Brown’s Kathryn Conner.

However, the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year knows she’ll need some help if the Penn women’s volleyball team wants to achieve it’s lofty goals this season.

“Every player on the court, from blocking to defense, has a role to play,” Shepherd said. “We have a lot of defensive players, Kristin [Etterbeek], Alexis [Genske], Rachel [Baader], Jasmine [DeSilva] — and all of us will contribute to a great season.”

While many seniors are taking the proverbial victory lap around campus and generally enjoying their final months as an undergraduate student, Shepherd knows the window is closing on her chances to capture another Ivy League title.

“As a leader of the team, I definitely have more responsibility this year,” Shepherd explained. “We have three captains, and all of our roles have somewhat changed from last year. We all have to perform our own individual positions well, but also keep the team in mind.”

All signs point to Shepherd having another dominant defensive season, but how she performs in her duties as captain will be integral to the larger team’s success.

“I’m in charge of making sure our all-around defense is as good as it was last year, “ Shepherd explained. “We’re really going for our team goal of winning the championship, and anything I can do to help us do that is my goal for this year.”

How’s she doing so far?

“It’s really early in the season right now, but it’s exciting,” Shepherd beamed. We’re making so many strides right now that it’s looking good for the future.”

With a player of Shepherd’s talent on the roster, it’s hard not to be optimistic.


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