Coming into Friday's game, the Penn women’s volleyball team was undefeated at home. After their most recent clash with the Harvard Crimson, they are no more. Penn lost to their second straight conference foe with a 3-1 defeat. The Red and Blue had many great opportunities to win but were unable to make the crucial plays down the stretch.
While the Red and Blue did not come away with the win, there were many highlights and great plays. Notably, junior Autumn Leak made many great plays on both the defensive and offensive end of the match.
“I think she has grown into a new role this year, playing six rotations and not coming off the floor, “ coach Meredith Schamun said. "She is captain for us. She is a really great leader. I think tonight she struggled a little bit offensively, but she pushes her teammates, and she wants to win, so I think she finds ways to do something better when another thing isn’t working. Tonight, they really did a good job defending her — she didn’t attack for a very high percentage — but she tried to find ways to block and to serve and to pass and find ways to make it successful.
"I think she is someone we can count on through and through no matter what the game looks like that night.”
The Quakers started the match very strong, winning the first two out of three points but quickly got down seven when the Crimson took a 13-6 lead going into a media timeout. The Red and Blue fought to win back points off the Crimson, but it ended up being too much as they lost 25-13.
The second set started the same way, with Penn coming out strong, but this time they were able to hold off Harvard.
The Red and Blue jumped out to an early 5-3 lead and went back and forth but ended up taking a lead as large as five as they went up 18-13 in the game. The Crimson were able to come back into the game and tied it up at 24 all.
It took five game points for the Quakers to secure the game. After a successful block by senior Margaret Planek and sophomore Emerson Flornes that hit down the middle, the Crimson were unable to return, leading the Red and Blue to win the game 30-28 and tying up the match 1-1.
In the third set, the Quakers came out strong, going up 3-0, but allowed Harvard to come back into the game. Penn and Harvard went back and forth earning points, until Harvard was able to come away with a 26-24 win.
Going into the fourth set, Harvard went up early with a 2-0 lead and never looked back, winning the set 25-19. In winning the set, the Crimson delivered the Quakers a crushing 3-1 defeat.
“I think we showed good resolve in the second set coming back and playing. The Penn volleyball that I know, we can play all the time, " Schamun said. “Then, it just got tight, and then we had a great opponent and weren’t able to find what we needed to in those past 20 moments in set three and four.”
Schamun did make note of the huge fanbase in attendance and hopes that will be the extra factor for the Quakers in tight games in the future.
“I think especially for it being a night that we had a football game at Penn, I thought there was a great crowd," Schamun said. “I think there were a lot of people here, of course, a lot of parents and family members, but I know a number of students as well, which is really encouraging just that they have so much support for the team, even with another big event happening on campus.
“I felt very good gym energy. Hoping we can continue that. I think we are growing a good fan base and have a lot of people in the gym to help us in some of those tight moments."
After taking their game against Dartmouth on Saturday, Penn women's volleyball will be back in action on the road Friday against Columbia.
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