In the “Revisiting the Breakout” series, The Daily Pennsylvanian looks back at some of the athletes that burst on the scene for the Quakers in 2019. Due to COVID-19, these breakout players, along with the rest of their teammates, sat on the sidelines in 2020 after the Ivy League canceled fall and winter sports. Now, with the 2021 fall athletics season around the corner, this series looks to check in with these athletes as they get ready to build on their standout 2019 campaigns.
When Penn volleyball returns to the Palestra this fall, DS libero Carmina Raquel will be one of the most important pieces in the team’s run at an Ivy title. The senior has played a prominent role for the Quakers since first setting foot on Penn’s campus her freshman year. Now, in her final season with the Red and Blue, Raquel will look to set new personal bests while also helping the Quakers to an Ivy League championship.
Raquel’s success can be traced all the way back to her freshman season in 2018. That year, Raquel tallied over 100 digs despite only starting three games. Her freshman campaign set up the 2019 breakout season, during which she was one of only two Quakers to appear in all 82 sets. Raquel recorded 356 digs, a total that was good enough to place second in the Ivy League. The total was also the most by a member of Penn volleyball since 2016.
In volleyball, the libero plays the role of the ultimate defensive specialist. The libero’s primary responsibility is to promote ball control, which enables a team to run its offense effectively. Often, this means digging the ball to keep the play going and to give the team a chance to return the ball to the opponent.
Raquel has thrived in this role for the Red and Blue, and her stats have shown as much. Now, she will look to convert her personal on-court success into team-wide success and consistent victories in the Ivy League. Despite Raquel’s 2019 breakout, the Quakers still struggled to finish above .500 with their final record of 11-10 (4-8 Ivy).
Now, two years after her breakout, Raquel will have her final chance to help Penn volleyball to an Ivy League title. While all Ivy League athletes have had to wait a long time to resume competition, the wait has been even longer for Penn volleyball. Just two games before the Quakers’ season was set to conclude, the team’s season was canceled by Penn Athletics after “vulgar, offensive, and disrespectful posters” were found in the women’s volleyball locker room.
2021 will represent an opportunity for Penn to find a fresh start on the court in their first season of play under new head coach Meredith Schamun. It will also give senior libero Carmina Raquel a chance to continue her success and etch her name in the Quaker record books.
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