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Sophomore outside hitter Raven Sulaimon led the Quakers with 11 kills against Dartmouth.

Credit: Eric Zeng

Penn women’s volleyball has had a tough start to conference play. 

The Quakers went on the road this week in search of their first Ivy win of the season. But after losing in straight sets to both Harvard and Dartmouth, Penn (3-13, 0-5 Ivy) is now the only remaining winless team in the Ivy League.

Friday night’s match against the Crimson (7-7, 2-3) illustrated promise for a talented Quaker team, but miscommunication and mistakes proved costly.

Quick play dominated the first set, with both teams constantly answering each other’s kills. Although there was solid play from both sides, the first set was plagued with errors. Penn lost nine points due to errors in the opener while the Crimson missed four serves of their own. Later in the set, Harvard went on a 7-1 run and the Quakers never answered, dropping the frame 25-19.

The second set echoed the first as lead changes came early and often. Junior opposite hitter Madison Goldstein stood out for the Quakers with some incredibly powerful spikes, some of which were deflected to the referees' table. As the set progressed, Harvard’s offense fell into a rhythm, taking a 21-16 lead. There seemed to be hope for the Quakers when they closed the gap to two points, but they ultimately fell 25-21.

Set three was fast-paced as well, with the score going back and forth throughout. Each team took turns leading, as there were five ties in the first 14 points. The Quakers showed promise early on, taking a 9-7 lead. Harvard then went on consecutive late runs, going up 15-12 and 21-17. These proved to be decisive, as the Crimson ultimately took the set 25-19.

On Saturday, the Quakers took on Dartmouth (6-9, 2-3) in Hanover, N.H.

The first set was characterized by quick runs. Dartmouth gained a 3-0 lead, but the Quakers bounced back, tying the game at three. The Red and Blue had a promising mid-set run, going up 10-7 before Dartmouth struck back. The rest of the set was a back and forth, with nine ties in a 10 point stretch. The Big Green, however, went on a late run to win the set 25-23.

Set two was more of a chase for the Quakers, as Dartmouth jumped out to a 4-1 lead. The Big Green held this advantage for the majority of the set, leading by as much as five to go up 16-11. However, the Quakers fought back, tying the game at 18, and kept on pushing to take a 22-21 lead. Unfortunately for the Quakers, the lead slipped away, as the Big Green took the last four points of the set to win 25-22. 

The third set was another close one, with multiple lead changes. Sophomore outside hitter Raven Sulaimon was instrumental in the early going, helping the Quakers jump out to a 5-0 advantage. However, Dartmouth slowly chipped away, coming back to tie the set at 12. The Big Green continued on runs to go up 20-17 and 23-19. The Quakers never erased these deficits, giving up the set 25-22.

Although both of the games were close, the Quakers need to improve communication and eliminate mistakes on the floor to be successful in a competitive, talent-heavy Ivy league. The Quakers will face Columbia and Cornell this weekend at the Palestra. 

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