Sometimes, the most important part of sports is having the will to win.
Penn volleyball showed that on Saturday with a resilient four-set victory over Dartmouth after losing a five-set heartbreaker Harvard the previous night.
Despite the crushing loss to Harvard (9-5, 4-1 Ivy), the Quakers showed just how quickly they could shift their focus by winning the first set against a Dartmouth bunch (6-8, 2-3) that entered the match with the exact same record as Penn (7-7, 2-3) .
“We stayed calm and had confidence for the entirety of the match,” said freshman Parker Jones, who had a team and season-high 22 kills in the win. “We also did a good job of communicating between the front and back row.”
This confidence and communication is what allowed Penn to run away with the match after Dartmouth seized the momentum to tie the match at 1-1.
After taking care of business in the first set with a score of 25-19, the Red and Blue seemed poised to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match. They led 22-20 in the second set until the Big Green won three consecutive points, forcing Penn to call a timeout.
The timeout did not stop Dartmouth’s rhythm, though, as the Big Green finished off the Quakers and took the second set 25-23.
Many teams would have crumbled after this kind of lost opportunity, but the Quakers proved they were not one of those teams.
“I told the team [after the second set] to refocus and to not let one point here or there rattle us,” first-year coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley said.
Penn responded to Schumacher-Cawley's message and came back out firing to win the third set's first four points before extending their lead all the way to 20-12.
The fourth and final set featured Penn and Dartmouth frequently exchanging points, as the teams entered the final points deadlocked at 19 apiece.
The Red and Blue pushed their way to a 23-20 lead, behind a couple of kills from Jones, only to drop the next three points.
Unlike the second set, however, the Quakers finished the job and took the fourth set 25-23, crushing the Big Green’s comeback hopes.
While the high-flying Jones was the star of the match for Penn, the team saw a solid contribution from many of its players.
Freshman Raven Sulaimon had an impressive ten kills and three blocks, while upperclassmen Kendall Covington and Brooke Behrbaum racked up seven and eight kills, respectively, with each adding four blocks. Senior Sydney Morton did everything on the court, totalling 49 assists and 13 digs.
Schumacher-Cawley was pleased to see this type of effort from her team after the hard-fought loss to Harvard the previous night.
“I thought we were serving aggressively, and I thought defensively we did some great things,” Schumacher-Cawley said. “It was a total team effort.”
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