Based off the final results, many would assume the Quakers were not very competitive this weekend.
This past weekend, Penn volleyball (2-5) battled against Radford (8-1) on Friday and Saint Francis (1-10) and Lehigh (8-1) in a doubleheader Saturday, losing all three matches 3-1 in the Valley Forge Sports Invitational Tournament.
Against Radford, the Red and Blue came out hot, grinding out a 25-23 victory in the first set. However, the Highlanders literally flipped the script the second set, evening the match with a second set victory of 25-23.
After the second set, Radford amassed large leads early in the remaining two sets, going up by as much as ten points in the fourth set. However, the Quakers still managed to stand their ground and regain a late lead in both sets, keeping the games close throughout.
Penn faced more of the same against Saint Francis the next day, taking the first set 25-18, then proceeding to drop the final three sets.
In the last match of the weekend, Penn squared off against Lehigh, who handed the Quakers their third four-set loss of the weekend. After Penn won the third set 25-22, the Mountain Hawks won the fourth and final set 25-19.
Despite the tough outcomes, coach Iain Braddak has pinpointed areas needing improvement going forward.
“We focused on this last week first ball contact and that we had our setters in the best position to run the offense,” stated Braddak. “I think as we look at the three matches you saw a lot of momentum shifts left and right. It’s on us to manage that first ball contact and manage our momentum shifts.”
The Quakers garnered large deficits throughout multiple sets, but never lost confidence. From chest bumps, high fives all around for sub-ins, and even dancing to songs between sets, the team has developed a unique bond.
“I’m very impressed with our grit and tenacity. We’re getting after it hitting the floor, and we’re making a lot of good moves,” stated Coach Braddak. “One of the things we’ve really established this year has been the culture of Penn volleyball and what that means for performance, resiliency, failure, and recovery."
That being said, Penn is far from content with the outcomes of this weekend, and this team’s competitive nature is far from maxed out.
Sophomore outside hitter Parker Jones exemplifies not only an offensive standard in the Ivy League, but also mirrors this same competitive mindset, using her vocality on and off the court to hype up the team.
“I feel like we need to step up; our competitive fire needs to be through the roof in the next couple games,” Jones said. “Honestly we need to play balls out, we’re at a plateau right now and we just need to break through.”
Junior libero Caroline Furrer is coming into her own since switching positions last year, and with this switch, she understands the power that change can bring to a team.
“One thing we were talking about in the locker room is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results,” said Furrer. “We’re definitely going to have a change of mindset and a change of heart.”
The Red and Blue will hope to iron out their kinks before their upcoming home match against Delaware State this Tuesday and the Mountaineer Classic next weekend.
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