Penn volleyball struggled on the road this weekend.
Tough matches for the Quakers culminated in losses to Ivy League foes on opposite ends of the standings. Penn lost to fellow basement-dweller Brown by a score of 3-1, before being dropped by Yale in straight sets.
Penn (5-16, 2-8 Ivy) left campus and headed north to Providence to face Brown (9-11, 2-8). Despite a promising victory in the first set, the Quakers ended up losing the match.
In the first set, the Red and Blue started out strong, securing a four-point lead at the midway point, 16-12. As Brown began to catch up, the teams traded points, but Penn maintained a close lead before a critical kill by senior middle hitter Brooke Behrbaum ended it with a score of 25-21.
But after this victory, the Quakers couldn’t seem to hold their ground.
“[The Bears tend] to play a little bit of a different style of volleyball than we’re used to,” coach Iain Braddak said. “They tend to be really scrappy and unconventional.”
Brown came out to the court for the second set fired up and dominated play, opening the set by winning five of the first six points and supporting that lead throughout the beginning of the set.
Penn began to catch up, and eventually closed the lead to one at 23-22 after scoring three straight points. However, this momentum wasn’t enough to keep the Quakers afloat, as Brown secured the last two points — and the second set — 25-22.
From there, Brown took off and never looked back. The Bears jumped out to another early lead and finished by scoring 11 of the final 13 points in a dominant third set. The fourth and final set went much the same way, as the Quakers failed to accumulate more than 15 points in either set.
“Brown stacked some points together and put us in a precarious position,” Braddak said. “From the outside [the point disparity] seems wildly dramatic, but in a game of errors like volleyball, things can flip away really quickly… and that speaks to how tight some of our other matches [have been].”
The next day, the Quakers had a much closer match against Yale (15-4, 9-1) despite not winning any of the sets.
Yale opened with five consecutive points before the Red and Blue were able to score a point, but as the game progressed, Penn closed the lead and began trading points with the Bulldogs.
“I’m very proud of the team having the [resiliency] to set that reset button after the game on Friday and get refocused,” Braddak said.
At the end of the match, with Yale attempting to score their final, set-winning point, the Quakers scored three in a row, two of which resulted from Yale mistakes, and it looked like the Quakers might close the gap. However, Yale’s last point came on a Penn service error, and the set ended in a score of 25-21.
The second set was initially tight, as the Quakers trailed closely behind the Bulldogs in the beginning. Then, after three errors in a row by Penn, Yale pulled ahead for good.
The final set also started out close, as the Quakers led the scoring with strong offensive play. Then, with the score 14-13 in favor of Penn, Yale scored eight straight points, enough to stave off a Quaker comeback attempt.
“If we look at our performance at Brown: we didn’t perform the way we wanted to, and certainly didn’t have the best showing we’ve had all season,” Braddak said.
“[However], the level of cohesion on our team is amazing. The amount of grit and tenacity has been sort of the theme of this season, and certainly undeniable on the weekend for both performances.”
The Quakers look forward to meeting Cornell and Columbia next weekend; the two New York Ivies are the only teams they’ve beaten in conference play.
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