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Credit: Alex Fisher , Alex Fisher

Many Penn students will be relaxing at home this weekend for fall break. But the volleyball players will be on campus, and they certainly won’t be resting.

This weekend, the Quakers will leave their bags unpacked and prepare for their second Ivy League doubleheader of the season, the first that will be played on their home court.

After a season-opening win at Princeton two weeks ago, the Red and Blue (8-7, 2-1 Ivy) took to the road again last weekend, where they beat Dartmouth before seeing their four-game winning streak snapped by Harvard.

This weekend, coach Kerry Carr’s squad will play host to a pair of struggling teams in Cornell and Columbia. The Big Red (4-9, 0-3) have lost five straight, and the Lions (3-9, 1-2) have the worst overall record in the Ancient Eight.

But Carr is not taking either game lightly.

“There is no team in the Ivy League that is a pushover this year,” she said.

The Quakers split the season series with both teams in 2014, and it’s safe to say that Carr plans to be prepared when Penn’s New York-based Ivy foes arrive at the Palestra. But how exactly does a team prepare for games on back-to-back days against different opponents?

“It’s tough,” Carr admitted. “We’re going to look at both teams equally throughout the week. As a coaching staff, in terms of giving information to our players, we never want them to look [too far] ahead.

“But at the same time we do have to prepare for both teams equally because we don’t have time to practice between the two matches. It’s definitely a give-and-take strategy.”

And the problem is made all the more challenging for the Quakers’ by their opponents’ diverging style of play.

“You’re not preparing for one style of team,” Carr said. “Cornell and Columbia have two very different strengths. So we’re challenging ourselves to conquer both of those strengths in one week of practice.”

Columbia, Cornell and Penn are the bottom three teams in the Ivy League in terms of hitting percentage. So while each team has different strengths, they share a weakness in net efficiency, and fans attending the games should expect to see their fair share of errors.

Of course, with fall break emptying out the campus, there most likely won’t be many students at the Palestra other than the ones on the court. But Carr pointed out one positive of an uncharacteristically uncongested University of Pennsylvania: an opportunity for some creative usage of the historic Palestra.

“We’re able to do a kids’ class on Saturday after the match, where we help out anybody that wants to come in and do a little community service workshop,” she said. “We’re gonna throw them on the court and play some volleyball. It gives us a chance to give back to the community.”

Those who do attend this weekend, both from the University and the surrounding area — not to mention the families of the athletes, many of whom travel to Philly for the games — will notice something special right off the bat. Both the Cornell and Columbia matches are “Dig Pink” events, in which the Quakers will don pink uniforms to help raise breast cancer awareness.

“I’m super excited for the opportunity to get our community involved,” Carr said. “Not only getting involved with Penn volleyball, but with a great cause.”

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