Call it halloWeekend now.
After losing four of its last five Ivy matchups, Penn volleyball busted out of its rut in a big way, picking up victories over both Harvard and Dartmouth on the road.
The 3-0 win over Harvard (6-13, 4-6 Ivy) was especially meaningful as it marked the first season since 2010 where Penn (10-12, 5-5) won both matchups with the Crimson. The match was much closer than the scoreboard indicated, as only nine points separated the two teams in total points won.
After a clean first set left the Quakers with a .312 hitting percentage, their percentage regressed back towards the mean, but was still just enough to finish off the sweep of Harvard. Sophomore outside hitter Courtney Quinn led the team in kills with 13, but was also able to tally 11 digs for her first double-double of the weekend.
“It was good we got to play them at full strength,” coach Kerry Carr said. “It shows that the first win wasn’t a fluke or anything.”
Riding high off their first victory of the weekend, the Red and Blue used the momentum to build a 2-0 lead over Dartmouth (8-13, 1-9) early on in the match. The Big Green proceeded to stage their own comeback, taking the third and fourth sets to force a decisive fifth set.
“We really came out on fire in those first two sets, but Dartmouth came back,” Carr said. “They were digging everywhere we were hitting so we had to change things up and be more aggressive.”
With the score knotted at 13, Penn was able to finally put away their Ivy counterpart after Dartmouth committed consecutive errors to clinch the 3-2 win. The aggressive approach to the game paid dividends at the expense of their hitting percentage, which dipped all the way down to .062 in the fifth and final set.
“It was good to see the team respond like that,” Carr said. “I’m super proud that they were able to find a way to win.”
Key to avoiding the upset against the Big Green was sophomore Courtney Quinn’s contributions on both sides of the net. Quinn’s double-double of 16 kills and 28 digs led the way as Penn clinched their second Ivy weekend sweep of the season. Junior libero Michelle Pereira also reached a career high with 37 digs to lead the way for the Quakers on the defensive end.
“[Quinn] is our go to hitter,” Carr added. “When the game is on the line the ball goes to her and she’s able to get a kill.”
With the successful weekend, the Red and Blue leaped to 4th place over their Ancient Eight rivals and are now one game ahead of Harvard in the standings. Now sitting in the top half of the Ivy League, Penn has found much to be optimistic about heading down the stretch of this season.
“Getting those two big victories on the road was huge,” Carr said. “It speaks volumes to how hard they worked this season.”
Heading into their last four games of the season, the Quakers will face up with a few teams that were able to best them in tough five-set matches in Columbia and Cornell.
Carr’s squad will try to reverse those outcomes to make a final statement before starting the preparations for next year. With all the key pieces of the teams set to return next year, the conference has been put on notice that this team will be ready to contend for the top spot in the 2017 season.
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