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Freshman outside hitter Courtney Quinn had four kills and 11 digs in Tuesday's game against Delaware.

Credit: Alex Fisher , Alex Fisher

For fans of Penn volleyball, Tuesday’s tilt against Delaware was the kind of game best watched between your fingers while wincing.

Every match point was a near miss for the Quakers (4-4), and the squad was unable to claw its way after conceding the first two sets to the Blue Hens (5-5). The Red and Blue went onto lose, 3-1, despite exceptional offensive play from senior captains Alex Caldwell and Alexis Genske, who carried the attack on the court with 18 and 12 kills, respectively.

Delaware jumped out to an early 10-6 lead in the first set, leaving Penn no chance but to chip away at the deficit point by point. Penn brought the score to within one point of the Blue Hens at 20-19 but was not able to overcome its opponent’s head start. Despite staving off three set points, the Quakers would drop the first set, 27-25.

Cue the second set, and the narrative would be more of the same: an early Delaware lead and a valiant but unsuccessful rally from the Red and Blue. Although Penn would take a 22-21 lead late in the set, the Blue Hens would ultimately capture the set, 25-23.

It was clear the Quakers weren’t going to sit idly by and let Delaware steal another set point — and this time the match — from under their noses. Running on all cylinders, Penn’s offense kicked off the third set with a 5-0 run.

Armed with momentum, the Red and Blue won their first and only set of the game, 25-18. Senior middle blocker Michellie McDonald-O’Brien led the turnaround, recording three kills for Penn. The San Francisco, Calif., native only saw action in the third set but made her presence known on the court.

Despite the squad’s brief success in the third set, Penn would not be able to mimic its surge in the fourth and final set of the game. Not even a refocusing timeout after the Blue Hens rocketed out to a 12-6 lead could put the Quakers back on track. For the remaining part of the fourth set, Delaware’s defense stymied Penn to capture the set, 25-14, and the game, 3-1.

The loss on Tuesday night pulls the Quakers non-conference record down to an even 4-4 win-loss record. Penn has two days to bounce back to top form before taking on Villanova at home on Friday in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN3.

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