Something about the California weather seems to agree with Penn sports teams.
Penn women’s squash went a good distance to Palo Alto, Calif. for a meeting with Stanford on Sunday, but jet lag was not a problem as the No. 2 Quakers topped the No. 5 Cardinal, 6-3.
Despite the small difference in rankings, a look at the shared history between the two sides would not have suggest anything but another victory for the Red and Blue (6-1, 1-1 Ivy).
In both of the teams’ last two meetings, the Quakers managed to sweep their California opponents, once at home and once on the road.
While the margin of victory was not as great on Sunday, the win still brings Penn’s record to 12-0 all-time against the Cardinal (3-4).
Heading to the Pacific coast provided a nice change of pace for the Quakers, who have had a high degree of success in recruiting in the area. Penn’s Reeham Salah is the second Seattle-native to play No. 1 for the Red and Blue.
“We really enjoy getting out on the west coast,” coach Jack Wyant said. “We took a few hours after the match today to wander the campus.”
After falling 7-2 to No. 1 Harvard last weekend, Penn . The team won three matches in Philadelphia over the next three days – including a 5-4 decision against No. 3 Trinity – before flying across the country to face Stanford.
For the Cardinal, hosting east coast opponents is about just as unfamiliar as it is for the Quakers to find themselves in California. Stanford did not have a single home match last season, but managed to secure a four-game stay this year.
The Red and Blue came on the end of that home stretch, a day after the Cardinal almost earned its first-ever win over No. 6 Yale in a 5-4 nail-biting loss.
Sunday’s match with the Quakers, however, showed no sign of making such history.
At the top of the ladder, Salah continued her perfect play this season. In addition to being Squash Player Magazine’s reigning Female Player of the Month for her performances as a member of Team USA, the sophomore is now 7-0 for the Red and Blue in the current campaign.
One step below her, junior Marie Stephan filled in for injured Melissa Alves at the No. 2 spot, winning her match in five games.
“We’re lucky that we have so much depth and were able to get the win without her [Alves],” Wyant said. “But we’re really looking forward to having her back in the lineup soon.”
All of the Quakers’ wins came from the top six spots on the ladder. Freshman Jessica Davis and sophomore Rowaida Attia swept their opponents while seniors Anaka Alankamony and Michelle Wong both finished in four.
Despite the three losses from the No. 7, 8 and 9 positions, depth has never shown to be a problem for the Red and Blue, and the one-time showing does little to suggest that it will be in the future.
“Anytime you can claim a victory against a top-five team, it’s best to enjoy that rather than to nitpick,” Wyant said.
After five matches in eight days, three of which were against top-five opponents, the Quakers have earned a bit of rest.
With the non-conference portion of their regular season now finished, Wyant’s side has a 10-day break in competition before Ivy League play picks up again against No. 4 Princeton.
“I’m looking forward to giving them a few days off,” the seventh-year coach said.
Soon enough, though, it’ll be back on the grind for the nation’s second-ranked team.
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