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Penn volleyball senior captain Taylor Cooper will lead the Quakers in their first two Ivy matches of the season this weekend. //File Photo

Credit: Alex Fisher

Penn volleyball is fired up as it welcomes a couple of Ivy League opponents to campus.

The Quakers (3-9, 0-1 Ivy) are set to play against Yale (7-3, 1-0) and Brown (7-4, 0-1) this weekend at home, and the battles will each bring their own set of unique challenges.

The Red and Blue opened Ivy play last weekend with a tough loss, 3-0, against Princeton. And while the final score might not have shown it, each of the sets were closely contested.

The team is building skills and camaraderie simultaneously, both in practice and off the court, and as the team looks into this upcoming season of Ivy play, senior captain Taylor Cooper is confident and optimistic.

“I think we’re all really excited because every opportunity to play is an opportunity to show what we’re capable of,” Cooper said. "We fought against Princeton and we’re ready to fight again this weekend, and hopefully come out with some 'W's.”

Looking ahead to Penn’s two rivals this weekend, each presents a different style of play that will demand an adaptive approach from Penn.

Yale’s volleyball program has been one of the best in the conference recent years, having played Princeton in the Ivy finals just last year. Moreover, the Quakers have struggled to defeat the Bulldogs of late; since 2011, Yale has defeated Penn in all but one of the 14 contests between the Bulldogs and Quakers.

Nevertheless, Penn’s new coach, Iain Braddak, is confident in the abilities and cohesion of his team. Having coached previously at Columbia, he brings important Ivy League experience into the matches.

“As we prepare for Friday night against Yale, we are expecting very traditional volleyball and an aggressive, physical game, which is great for us," Braddak said. "That’s a style we love to play and where we really excel."

Brown will bring a different set of challenges to the Palestra on Saturday with their new coach, Ahen Kim, a former assistant volleyball coach at American University.

Given that Penn has won three out of the four games played against Brown in the past two seasons, the Quakers are preparing much differently for their second opponent, especially in terms of play style.

“On Saturday night with Brown, we will see very scrappy play, things that might not be as disciplined, which is going to force us to be a lot more disciplined on our side of the net,” Braddak explained.

As the volleyball season progresses into this weekend, Penn is looking to both buck the trend with regard to their history with Yale and hold their ground against Brown.

“The importance of continual improvement and trusting the process has been a conversation that we’ve had very frequently with this team," Braddak said. "These girls are great teammates that really push Penn volleyball to its limits."

The Quakers will face both opponents on their home court, the Palestra; they'll play against the Bulldogs on Friday at 7 P.M. and against the Bears at 5 P.M. on Saturday.

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