It’s been an impressive start to the season for Penn volleyball, and this weekend proved no exception.
The Quakers reigned victorious this weekend at the Palestra, as they welcomed Duquesne, Chicago State, and St. Francis Brooklyn for the two-day Valley Forge Sports Invitational, and swept the competition with a trio of wins.
“We were definitely excited about this weekend, our first games in the 'Pal,’” sophomore middle hitter Margaret Planek said. “We were saying, 'Protect the Pal,’ all weekend, so that was our motto coming in.”
The first of the three competitors to challenge Penn (5-1) this weekend was Duquesne (4-6). The Dukes fell behind early and dropped each set, despite closing the gap with each successive set.
The first set ended in favor of the home side by a score of 25-18, including an 11-3 run from the Red and Blue that put them ahead. Despite a rocky start to the second set which saw Duquesne take a 7-4 lead, the Quakers once again stormed back to take it, 25-19. Up 2-0 in the match, this early success gave Penn a comfortable position heading into the third.
The tightest set of the match was the third. Neither team led by more than three points throughout the set, and the Quakers pulled out a win, 25-22. Junior outside hitter Parker Jones, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian staffer, led the team in kills with 15 throughout the match, and freshman setter Taylor Fourticq closed the match with 36 assists.
“For us, all 18 people are on the court in one way or another,” junior opposite hitter Caroline Leng said. “Whether I was on the bench or on the court, I think I saw the whole team bringing energy onto the court.”
The next match of the tournament pitted Penn against Chicago State (3-7). This contest ended after five sets, with the Quakers winning the first two and then losing steam to the Cougars in the third and fourth sets. In the fifth and final set, however, Penn stood firm and held on for a 15-12 win, claiming its second match triumph in as many contests.
Jones again finished the match with 15 kills, and Fourticq added 33 kills, three aces, and 13 digs.
“This is my first year starting, so I’m definitely gaining confidence in every game I’m playing," Fourticq said. “So just building my confidence and being at my peak by the time Ivies come around, that’s definitely a personal goal.”
In the final match against St. Francis Brooklyn (4-5), the Red and Blue again dominated their way to a straight-set sweep. The first set ended with a score of 25-13, as Penn never let go of the lead. The second set saw a lead trade toward the end of the set, which forced the teams over 25 points, but the Quakers ended up securing a 26-24 win after Jones' set-winning kill.
The last set was just as tight but the hosts held on, 25-23, for the match and tournament win.
“We definitely wanted to prove that we’re a new team this year and we’ve been working really hard the past month, so it was a lot of fun to come out and showcase that in our hometown in front of our crowd,” Planek said.
With this weekend's tournament behind them, the Quakers will look to build on their positive momentum when they head to the West Coast next weekend for the UC Riverside Invitational.