A weekend road trip across New York to battle Columbia and Cornell led to a pair of losses for Penn volleyball. The Lions defeated the Quakers by a score of 3-1 while the Big Red swept the Red and Blue in straight sets.
Against Columbia (11-9, 4-6 Ivy), Penn (9-10, 2-8) came out hot, grinding out a 27-25 victory in the first set. However, the second turned out to be an even more back-and-forth affair with ties at both 21 and 23 before Columbia gained momentum to win the last two points. This evened the match at 1-1 before the Lions took the final two sets for a come-from-behind victory.
Junior outside hitter Parker Jones, who is also a DP staffer, and sophomore middle hitter Daniela Fornaciari tallied 14 and nine kills, respectively. In addition, junior opposite hitter Daia Ernst, who played in just her second career match, added eight kills to her stat line. This was Penn's second loss of the season to Columbia, and both matches ended with an identical 3-1 score.
When the Quakers first met Cornell (15-4, 8-2) early in Ivy League play, the Big Red won, 3-2. In their second matchup, however, the Big Red controlled the pace of the game from start to finish. The average margin of victory per set was just under 10 points, and the Red and Blue didn’t break 20 points in any set.
Penn is the second-best team in the Ivy League at limiting opponents kills by allowing only 12.08 kills per set, but Cornell’s front line proved too much for the Quakers. The Big Red averaged 15.33 kills per set against the Quakers, tallying 46 kills to Penn’s 26 for the matchup. Cornell's defense never let the Red and Blue find their footing.
After Penn won the first point of the match, Cornell outscored the Quakers, 25-13, to take the early lead. The second set was more competitive, with the Big Red taking control after a 9-9 tie. Cornell took the next three points and never looked back from its lead. The third set became a struggle early for the Red and Blue after a 6-0 Cornell run proved to be the dagger that ultimately led to a sweep. Jones and Fornaciari each tallied six kills in the contest.
The next two matchups for the Quakers are against Harvard (5-14, 3-7) and Dartmouth (7-13, 2-8) on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Penn is ranked seventh in the Ivy League, but with the Crimson at the sixth spot and the Big Green last in the League, this next stretch gives the Red and Blue an opportunity to notch a pair of wins as they round out Ivy play.
The players that performed well for the Quakers early in the season are still playing at a high level, and with injuries seemingly limited, the team has the ability to end the season strong.