When it rains, it pours.
This weekend, Penn volleyball suffered a pair of losses at the hands of Ivy League rivals Cornell and Columbia. These losses leave the Red and Blue in the midst of a four-game losing streak and with an 0-3 record in Ivy League play.
The Quakers (7-5, 0-3 Ivy) began the weekend on Friday night at the Palestra, where they faced off against the visiting Big Red (10-2, 3-0). Despite taking the first two sets in dominant fashion, the Red and Blue could not carry their momentum into the third set, which Cornell ultimately won. The Big Red, propelled by their third set victory, controlled the next two sets as they defeated the Quakers at home in five sets.
After Friday’s heartbreaking loss, the Quakers chose to emphasize mental toughness as they moved forward.
“Resiliency and grit specifically [are] a big thing for us,” sophomore libero Carmina Raquel said. “[We wanted to] be strong the whole set through and kind of just [emphasize] bouncing back, realizing it goes either way and each point is one point.”
Saturday offered the Red and Blue their chance to bounce back at home against the visiting Lions (8-5, 1-2).
The Quakers were energized from the start, and players were clearly determined to put the previous night’s defeat behind them. However, despite the energy the Quakers carried into the match, it was Columbia that controlled both of the first two sets. The Lions’ success was fueled by a strong performance by senior middle hitter Chichi Ikwuazom, who led the match with 20 kills.
Staying true to their theme of resiliency, the Red and Blue refused to give up. Led by strong performances by junior outside hitter Parker Jones (13 kills), who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian staffer, and Raquel (10 digs), the Quakers began the third set with a 9-3 run. Following a Columbia timeout, the Lions gained momentum and evened the score. However, after Friday night, the Quakers were determined to close out the set.
“This weekend we wanted to focus on closing out our games [and sets] and being strong the whole set through,” Raquel said.
Raquel and the rest of the Red and Blue stayed true to this goal as they hung on to win the third set and keep the match going.
The Quakers kept the momentum on their side as they traded point for point with Columbia for the entirety of the fourth set. However, the Lions’ strong offensive play, paired with Penn’s five service errors and four attack errors, allowed Columbia to win the fourth set and secure the match.
In spite of this weekend’s tough losses, the Red and Blue are remaining focused on the long season ahead.
“We are going to use this past weekend to light a fire under us and really use that to move forward,” sophomore opposite hitter Margaret Planek said. “We are playing for each other during practice, and hopefully we can use that and our confidence in each other to fuel us [moving forward].”
Although an 0-3 start to Ivy League play may discourage some teams, this year’s Penn team is choosing to look forward.
“We see every team twice, so no matter what happens last game we are going to go into the gym every time like it’s a new game,” Planek said.
The Red and Blue will look to put their rough start to Ivy play behind them as they host Ivy League rivals Brown (9-4, 1-2) and Yale (7-5, 3-0) next weekend.
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