Penn volleyball gave its seniors something to celebrate this weekend.
This weekend, the Quakers played their last home matches of the season, back-to-back Ivy League contests against Harvard and Dartmouth. Strong defense and quick offense led Penn to win both games by a 3-1 score.
The Quakers (11-10, 4-8 Ivy) opened Friday night against the Crimson (5-16, 3-9). Having lost their previous meeting 3-1, the Red and Blue sought vengeance.
The first set started successfully for the Quakers, as they got off to an early led that stretched to seven at various moments. This dominance continued throughout the set; however, a resilient Harvard team came back, catching the Red and Blue at 21. Penn quickly responded though, finishing the set, 25-23.
Going into the second set, the Red and Blue retained much of the momentum they had gained during the previous set. Although the set began with back and forth play, Penn was able to garner a 13-9 lead midway through the set. A pair of kills by sophomore opposite hitter Margaret Planek and junior outside hitter Parker Jones, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian staffer, put the Quakers up 22-15, and they were able to close out the set, 25-21.
The third set was characterized by much weaker play from the home side. A few Penn service errors plus four aces by Harvard allowed the Crimson to quickly go up 10-3. The Red and Blue fought hard to pull themselves out of this hole; however, solid play from Harvard never allowed Penn within six points; they ultimately won the set, 25-15.
The Red and Blue were hungry for the win in the fourth set. Led by strong play on the net, Penn was quickly propelled to a 6-2 start, but the Crimson came back within one. Eight straight points from the Quakers put the lead at 19-13, and they never looked back, taking the set 25-20 and securing the win.
On Saturday, the Red and Blue had their last chance to defend their home court this season. Playing Dartmouth (7-15, 2-10 Ivy), the Quakers sought to replicate their 3-1 win over the Big Green earlier this season. This night was uniquely special for seniors Carolina Raquel and Madison Goldstein as it was the last home game of their careers.
“I’m so happy we won for our seniors because every point was for [them]," junior outside hitter Raven Sulaimon said. “Madison and Rocky are the best people I’ve ever met. I’m so excited they led our team, and these last few games are for them.”
The first set started competitively, with both teams’ offenses getting going early. The game continued in a back and forth, with the Quakers gaining momentum late to go up 16-10. A rock solid defense and strong play led by Raquel helped the Red and Blue take the set, 25-17.
Dartmouth came out swinging in the second. Gaining a quick 5-2 lead, the Big Green’s hitting overwhelmed Penn’s blocking. As the Quakers started to claw back, a pair of kills by Goldstein put the Quakers in a position to go up 17-16. However, a momentous run by Dartmouth gave them the win, 25-19.
Dartmouth continued its momentum into the beginning of the third set. Capitalizing off of miscommunication by the Red and Blue, they were able to gain a 9-6 lead. Penn clawed back, however, and strong hitting on both sides led to a tug of war for points, ultimately leading in a tie at 22. Impressive play from Raquel and Goldstein helped Penn pull away, winning the third set, 25-22.
The fourth set was just as fast-paced as the third. The Big Green began with another strong run off Penn errors, going up 14-7. However, the Red and Blue fought back point by point, ultimately tying the game at 20. A run led by freshman outside hitter Autumn Leak and Sulaimon gave the Quakers match point at 24-22. A final kill by Sulaimon confidently finished the match three sets to one.
“I think one thing that we did really well was that we had tenacity and fight," Sulaimon said. “There were a lot of crazy balls during that entire game. There were weird rallies, but we stuck through the out-of-system balls and made sure to terminate when we were in system."
Penn will close the season on the road for their final matchups of the year at Yale and Brown.