Penn volleyball’s season came to an end on Saturday, but it really seemed like the Quakers were just getting set to head on vacation.
It’s hard to view a 3-2 loss to Cornell (12-12, 6-8 Ivy) in the season finale as the end for this 2016 Penn team (10-16, 5-9), because the entire 2016 Penn team will be back for 2017.
So on a team with no seniors for whom to celebrate a “Senior Night,” the focus was squarely on volleyball this weekend at the Palestra.
Penn started off its final doubleheader well with a 25-23 first-set victory against Columbia, but dropped the next three sets and fell 3-1 to the Lions (14-10, 9-5). Sophomore outside hitter Courtney Quinn and junior middle blocker and captain Kendall Covington led the way for Penn with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
The second match of the weekend followed a similar path, with the Quakers winning a close first set before dropping the next two. While the Red and Blue rallied with a dominant fourth set to force a deciding fifth, the team could not hold a lead and the Big Red managed to seize the victory.
“It was up-and-down, there were some high moments and some low moments. I wish we could have pulled it out but it was great to see what we are capable of,” junior setter and captain Sydney Morton said. “The highest moments that we had, when we were playing our best, we are capable of beating any team in the Ivy League if we play like that all the time. And the lows, we gotta improve on that in the spring.”
The story of the night was freshman outside hitter Caroline Furrer, who had a career-high 21 kills for Penn against just nine errors on a whopping 51 attacks. Furrer also notched 12 digs and four blocks, bouncing back with the best game of her career after struggling mightily just the night before.
“I just had the mentality to leave it all out on the floor for everyone that’s supported me all season. I was playing not only for the girls on the court but the girls on the bench and everyone that’s helped us get here,” Furrer said.
“It’s amazing to see how many strides she has made mentally and physically this season,” Morton added.
Morton capped off a solid weekend and a strong season of her own with 43 assists in the finale, and Quinn played well once again with nine kills and 22 digs.
The Quakers finish the season sixth in the Ivy League, just behind fourth and fifth place Harvard and Cornell, well ahead of bottom-dwelling Brown and Dartmouth but well behind second-place Yale, third-place Columbia and Ivy League champion Princeton. A pedestrian finish was to be expected for a team that had lost its best players and veteran leaders to graduation before the season, but Carr was able to reflect on the positives.
“I was really proud of how the team came together, we were broken from last year and developed a team culture, and found team leaders that I am extremely, extremely proud of,” Penn coach Kerry Carr said. “And building from that as our base— it was a really enjoyable experience, to have them come in working so hard every day. I didn’t feel the losses as much as I maybe should have, because they came in so resilient and worked even harder.”
And with no goodbyes to be said, the entire team is looking forward to pursuing a better spot in the standings next season:
“Our training starts right now for next season, and everything we do now will lead up to that,” Furrer said. “We are a two-year team.”