There were a lot of firsts for Penn volleyball this weekend.
In the Quakers' first games of the season at the Georgetown Classic, sophomore star Parker Jones, who is also a staffer for The Daily Pennsylvanian, finished without a kill, senior Grace James dished out 36 assists and sophomore Raven Sulaimon notched 17 kills for the first time in their careers. Additionally, new coach Iain Braddack picked up his first two wins at Penn in wins over Georgetown and Norfolk State.
Penn also fell to George Mason and UNC-Wilmington, but after the matches, Braddak didn't let that color his view of the team's prospects this season.
“The sky’s the limit for this program,” the newcomer said.
The Quakers' (2-2) first match of the Classic came against George Mason on Friday, immediately followed by a competition against the hosting Hoyas. The first match was closer than the final 3-1 score indicated, with the Quakers forcing a 1-1 tie early on. However, early deficits in the final two sets were too much to overcome.
The Red and Blue stormed back in their next match versus Georgetown, eking out a 3-2 victory to end the first day.
The team carried its momentum into Saturday, notching a sweep against Norfolk State. In Penn's next and final match of the Classic, UNC-Wilmington flipped the script on the Quakers with a 3-0 triumph.
Despite the disappointing end to the weekend, the team still has plenty to celebrate after kicking off its season. Other than recording its first two wins, Sulaimon and James had record-breaking weekends.
“James really shined out there,” Braddack said of her new career-high in assists.
Braddack also spoke of how Sulaimon's dynamic play had allowed her to be more successful and take another positive step in her career.
“We could really trust her,” he said. “She just found a way to score.”
Braddak recognized that the team still had areas of improvement, but he was nonetheless impressed with the performance of his squad, trusting in their ability to develop from this experience.
“This program can adapt and grow and is extremely resilient,” Braddak said.
Next weekend, Penn will get to compete in the Palestra for the first time this season in the Valley Forge Sports Invitational. Penn will face Radford, Saint Francis, and Lehigh.
After securing a number of firsts in Georgetown, the Quakers hope to continue the trend and grab their first wins at home.
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