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kendall covington
Credit: Carson Kahoe

While hectic students will be bustling down Locust Walk this weekend hoping to conquer impending midterms, Penn volleyball will be making a far different trek. 

On Friday, the Quakers will take a trip to New Haven, Conn. to face off against Yale and on Saturday, they will head up to Providence, R.I. for a match against Brown.

Faced with two critical Ivy League matches this weekend, the team hopes to rebound from its loss against defending champion Princeton. The Quakers also hope to regain some of the confidence they displayed at the Robert Morris Invitational, where the team won two out of three to wrap up its best preseason since 2013.

Yale (7-3, 1-0 Ivy) comes off of a win against Brown (5-7, 0-1) in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Yale’s victory over Brown happened in large part due to its domination on defense and has garnered attention among the Red and Blue. Penn faces an interesting dynamic as the Quakers are set to play both teams this weekend.

Under the helm of new coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley, the team has worked hard in practice in hopes of achieving a winning season. 

“We are going to focus a lot on team defense and our blocking in back court defense,” Shumacher-Cawley noted. “I think our defense was moving a little bit slow for this weekend… we are just working on moving a little more with our pace.”

With a tough schedule set out before the team, senior Kendall Covington, who was named MVP at the Robert Morris Invitational, underscored how crucial the team's mental strength would be in order to remain competitive.

“I think physically, skill-wise, we are right there with all the teams in the Ivy League,” Covington explained. “With volleyball, it’s such a mental game, so I think this week we are really looking to gain more confidence.”

Confidence will be crucial for the team. But it hasn't been a problem for the freshmen, especially in regards to outside hitter Parker Jones, who has already earned two Ivy League Rookie of the Week titles in her young collegiate career. Schumacher-Cawley praised Jones and her classmates.

“The freshmen have done a great job. I mean Parker on the court has really made a name for herself out there. I think all of them have had a great impact on the team… I’m excited to see what they can do.”

So, even while the students bustling down Locust Walk are sure to be overanalyzing their notes in preparation for midterms, Covington perfectly summed up the Quakers' game plan: 

“Just make it simple for yourself. Go out there and don’t overanalyze things. Just do what you’re good at. Just play volleyball.”

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