The Penn volleyball team found success against non-Ivy teams at the Yale Tournament. When Penn's volleyball players started practicing this summer, they faced the challenges of a new coach and a new system. Their goal was to improve with every game and reach its peak for the Ivy League tournament in mid-November. The Quakers (9-14) made great strides toward that goal last weekend, taking two out of three matches at the Yale tournament in New Haven. Penn defeated Manhattan 3-1 and Colgate 3-2, but lost to Bucknell 3-1. "We have improved on everything we needed to in order to win the Ivies," Penn coach Kerry Major said. Major was especially pleased with the improvement of the Quakers' defense, which became more dominant as the weekend progressed. What made the weekend so favorable was Penn's ability to put its entire game together. "Throughout the season, we've always had one aspect of the game go wrong," junior Sue Sabatino said. "But this weekend, everything seemed to click." Major agreed with Sabatino that when the team comes together, they are capable of beating anyone in the Ivy League. "We've only [come together] a couple times this season, but when we do, we definitely have the ability to win," Major said. Penn's first match of the weekend was against Manhattan (9-24). The Quakers disposed of the Jaspers in four games, 17-15, 15-8, 10-15 and 15-13. Key players in the match were freshman Stephanie Horan, who recorded seven service aces, and Sabatino, who had 22 kills and a .321 attack percentage. "We were up and down during the match, but they were an easy team, so we were able to come through and win," Major said. "We really excelled in the strong parts of our game, including serving aces and blocking," she added. The Red and Blue have a few players at the top of the Ivy League in hitting percentage,and the team ranks first in serving aces and blocking. Penn's middle match was a morning contest against Bucknell (12-9) for which the Quakers never really awoke. "We couldn't pass against Bucknell," Co-Captain Katy Stock said. "And when we don't pass, our entire game falls apart." Despite fiddling around with its lineups and not being accustomed to morning matches, the Quakers are not making excuses. "If we play like we played against the Bisons in the tournament next weekend, we will lose, and it is very hard to win the Ivies going through the losers bracket," Major stated. The Quakers' final game was against Colgate (13-14), a team which Penn had beaten earlier in the season. But according to Sabatino, that was not the reason the Quakers won the second meeting. "During the Colgate game, we played with a lot more intensity, which made all parts of our game come together," she said. "We were a little more confident considering we beat them already, but that didn't have much to do with it because we've lost to a lot of teams we should have beaten throughout the season." Major was the happiest with the Colgate match because Penn put everything together when they had to in the fifth game. "Colgate was a lot tougher this time, and I knew we had to be perfect for the game," she said. "Even though it took us until the fifth game to fully click, as long as it happened, I am happy." Despite the promising performances against Colgate and Manhattan, the Quakers still have some aspects of the game upon which to improve. "We couldn't pass the short ball this weekend," Stock said. "We also have to work on blocking on the right side," she added. Having lost to Princeton already this season, the Quakers know it will take more than an outstanding physical performance to beat the Tigers in the first round of the Ivy tournament on Thursday. "We have a lot to overcome mentally," Major said. But if the Red and Blue can build on last weekend's victories in practice, the team's pre-season goal will certainly be within reach.
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But Penn coach Kerry Major said she considered the loss an improvement. Rarely does a 3-0 defeat in volleyball satisfy the losing team. But when you're the Penn volleyball team, and you haven't been in a game for a few weeks, a good performance is quite gratifying despite the outcome. The Quakers (5-12) dropped their seventh straight to Villanova (11-1) last night at the Palestra, 15-11, 15-12, and 15-5. "We played really well," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "[Villanova] is one of the strongest teams in the Big East and we stuck with them and almost beat them the first two games." The Quakers attribute their better play to the mentally grueling practices over the past few weeks. "We had a really good practice yesterday," Penn freshman Jodie Antypas said. "It definitely showed up in our match today." The Quakers spent Monday's entire practice passing, which resulted in a super passing performance last night. "We have certainly been pushing through a lot of our mental blocks in practice," Penn senior Karen Lewis said. "It was obvious that it helped today because our passing was the best aspect of today's match." The Red and Blue also broke through mentally on defense, improving that aspect of the game compared to past matches. Penn had eight blocks compared to only two by the Wildcats, while recording 70 digs, an impressive statistic. "I think we played with a lot of intensity and got to a lot of balls on defense that we hadn't gotten to in the past," Penn junior Kristel Weaver said. "We played pretty hard and were very scrappy defensively." The Quakers impressive defense and passing led them to play on the same level as the Wildcats for much of the match. The first two games were close for their duration until Villanova pulled away at the very end due to a combination of good play by the Wildcats and mental errors by Penn. The final game was not really a contest with 'Nova pulling out to a quick 7-0 lead. The Quakers never even got out of the gate until the Wildcats held a 14-3 lead. With the 11-point deficit, Penn was able to win a few side out points, much like they had been doing in the first two games. "We did some nice things today despite one of our starters being injured," Villanova coach Heather Hoehn said. "We tried some different lineups trying to see what would work and what wouldn't. Luckily, we came up with some good combinations." The injured starter Hoehn referred to was 1997 All Big East player Megan O'Brien, who sat out with a twisted knee. O'Brien is averaging 4.11 kills per game and is tops on the Wildcats with 26 service aces. Leading the way for Penn in the match were Lewis, who recorded a .571 attack percentage, and Weaver, who had 10 kills. Penn next faces an important weekend, with matches against Cornell and Columbia. Both Ivy League opponents are, like the Quakers, winless within the conference. "I'm happy going into the weekend," Major said. "Not as happy as if we had a win, but happy." Major and the rest of the team still point to cutting down mental errors as the key to winning this weekend. Despite the better passing play and defensive prowess, the team still made 10 serving errors and 9 blocking errors, which can be attributed to the mental aspect of volleyball. "I think we'll be successful this weekend, but we still need to clean up some of our errors," Lewis said. "Both teams won't be as tough as 'Nova was, but we have to serve better, and pick it up in a lot of areas." For the most part, the team believes that if they play as well as they did last night, they will beat both Columbia and Cornell. But, if they lose to these inter-league opponents, one can guarantee that they will not again be satisfied with defeats.
The Quakers will try to eliminate mental errors and break a six-game losing streak against the Wildcats. Tom Petty said, "The waiting is the hardest part." For the Penn volleyball team, the waiting has certainly been difficult. The Quakers (5-11) are on a six-game losing streak and are desperately waiting for the pieces of their game to fall into place. They hope their turnaround can occur tonight at 7 p.m. in the Palestra against Villanova (10-11). "Villanova is one of the toughest teams we have to play this year," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "They're in the top half of the Big East and we're not only going to have to be at the top of our physical game, but also our mental game -- two things we haven't been for three weeks now." The mental aspect of volleyball is where Penn has struggled the most lately. To combat the mental lapses, the Quakers have been enduring mentally challenging practices. These practices, according to Major, have been successful, even though the Quakers have yet to win an Ivy League match-up. "We're continuing the mental drills," she said. "The practices have been great, but we need to figure out how to get tougher." As far as the physical aspect of the game is concerned, the team believes that there is no specific area in which it has been extremely good or bad. "Physically, we've been up and down with everything, and I know we've done everything up at one time or another, so I think if we put it all together mentally, we'll be in good shape," Major said. Penn co-captain Katy Stock said she agrees that not only have different areas of Penn's game had highs and lows, but so have all the players. "Every game, everyone has had their ups and downs, and no person on the team has been completely consistent," Stock said. "There's not one person on the team this year who is the go-to hitter. This year, it takes a full team effort." Stock referred back to last year adding that in the 1997 season, graduate Jessica Leftman was the go-to hitter. This year, however, all players must contribute. "I don't think we need one outstanding person to be successful," she said. "I believe we're the most talented team to come through Penn in a long time. We just have to put it together mentally." Mentally and physically, the Quakers run into some stiff competition in Villanova. Despite having a 10-11 record and losing four in a row, the Wildcats are near the top of the Big East. In addition, they have some star players including outside hitter Megan O'Brien, who was All-Big East last season. Setter Cathy Arnette and outside hitter Ann Blankenheim are two other key players who starred for 'Nova in their last match versus St. John's. Arnette recorded 38 assists while Blankenheim scored 13 kills in the loss to the Red Storm. Major isn't so concerned about facing such a difficult competitor. "We have nothing to lose," Major said. "We're expected to lose, they're expecting to beat us. Without that pressure, maybe we can do some things that I know we can do, and that we have been doing in practice." Stock concurred with Major. "Going into a game I would rather be the underdog because the pressure is off," Stock said. She added that although the team wasn't happy about it, having a low seed in the Ivy League tournament could prove to be advantageous. "Teams like Harvard and Dartmouth have the pressure to do well," she said. "Sometimes, it's better to go into the tournament, work really hard and, hopefully, be the Cinderella team of the season." While being a Cinderella team would be a great ending to the season, if the Quakers do not pull themselves together mentally, the Red and Blue might be waiting for 1999. And that could be the hardest part.
Maybe it was New England's beautiful fall foliage that distracted the Penn volleyball team this weekend. But regardless of the reason, Penn (5-10, 0-5 Ivy League) lost both of its matches this weekend -- 3-0 to Dartmouth (14-2, 4-0) and 3-2 to Harvard (6-14, 3-1). The team has now lost its last five matches and 15 of its last 17 games. Making matters worse, since the Quakers cannot identify the problem, they are going to have trouble coming up with a solution. "There is not a specific problem that we can work on in practice," co-captain Katy Stock said. "Our problems seem to be mental." Stock pointed out many instances in both matches over the weekend where long rallies would end in mental errors by the Quakers. "We would put the ball over 30 times, but the rally would end in a mental mistake," she said. "At times, it seemed like the other team wanted it more." The mental aspect of volleyball is not as easy to practice as the physical, but the Quakers are trying to fix their mental lapses by practicing drills that focus on volleyball's mental elements. "We're doing drills that we really have to exert ourselves," Stock said. "We keep going even when we think we can't. Hopefully, these drills will prepare us for the weekend." Despite the lopsided score, Friday's game against Dartmouth lasted over two hours. Penn steadily gained momentum throughout the three games, losing 16-14 in the final game. "During the middle of the third match I really thought we could turn it around," Penn junior Sue Sabatino said. "We put up a good fight, we were just not mentally there." Saturday's game with Harvard was even closer, as Penn had a 2-1 lead going into the fourth game. But the Quakers couldn't hold on, losing the last two games. "We had a let-down in the fourth game," Stock said. "We expected that game to come easily to us, and it didn't." What makes the weekend losses harder to accept is that, fundamentally, the Red and Blue played well. "Against Princeton, our passing lost us the game, and versus Brown, we played awful defense," Stock said. "This weekend, we were statistically equal." As for the Ivy league stigma, Sabatino believes that the quality of play in the league is no better than the team's out-of-conference opponents. "The Ivy league teams are not harder," Sabatino said. "Mentally, that's what we believe, though." With a non-league opponent up next in St. Peters, the Quakers have to hope that their mental breakdowns do not carry over.
The Penn volleyball team failed to capture its first Ivy win at Princeton. Penn volleyball coach Kerry Major summed it up in one sentence: "My team did not pass." The Penn volleyball team lost a match at Princeton last night that it could have won. The Quakers were disposed of in three games, 15-4, 15-12, 15-3. All season players and coaches have stated that the team's passing game would be key in any victory, and when Penn did not pass, they would not win. "We simply did not pass well enough to run our offense from the middle," Major said. Co-captain K.C. Potter expanded on her coach's thoughts. "A good pass leads to a good set which leads to a good kill. We didn't accomplish the first part, so there's no way we could have expected to accomplish the third part," Potter said. The statistics back the player's sentiments -- Penn had a paltry 1.2 passing statistic, meaning the Quakers could do very little with the ball when it was passed. Last weekend that same statistic was 2.4. What made the loss even more heartbreaking was that for the first time in years, the team truly believed they had a great chance of beating the rival Tigers. Once the match began, however, the Quakers' confidence dipped. "Mentally, we couldn't keep up," Major said. "The team that played Princeton was not the same team that showed up last weekend." Before the loss, the Quakers had won four in a row, including weekend victories against Drexel and Colgate, a team to which Princeton had lost. A big part of Penn's mental block in the match was a communication break down. "Our confidence collapsed when we stopped communicating," Potter said. "Two people would call for a ball; both would hesitate and the ball would drop in between them. It's hard to win when we don't talk to each other." At the very beginning of the match, it looked as if Penn would win. "Princeton started out timid, so I thought we were in good shape," Major said. After that, however, little went right for the Quakers. Quickly after the Tigers' slow start, the Quakers passing woes began. Princeton rapidly gained confidence and started feeding the ball to its outside hitters, the primary component of the offense. Penn's downward spiral ended in a first game loss. The Red and Blue began the second game solidly, winning the first few points. But the mental errors soon kicked in. "In game two we picked up momentum, and for a while we thought we could win," junior Kristel Weaver said. "But then we let down and they made some pretty good plays." Game three was never in doubt for the Tigers. The Tigers didn't help the Quakers cause at all in that it ran its offensive scheme almost to perfection. Princeton's strategy was to pass the ball to its outside hitters, Rose Kuhn and Sabrina King. These players were so skilful that they were able to hit the ball directly off the tops of the Penn blockers hands. Although Major was very disappointed with the team's performance, she did see one bright spot. "When we did run our offense through the middle as planned, we scored. We just didn't do it enough," she said. Despite this loss, the Quakers must look forward seeing as they have another Ivy League match Thursday against Brown and one this weekend versus Yale. "We have a huge week ahead of us, so we have to move on," Major said. "I hope we can."
Riding a four-game win streak, the Quakers feel they have a chance to upset the defending league champs. Here are some important events in American history: D-Day, man lands on the moon? Penn versus Princeton. The Penn volleyball team (5-5, 0-0 Ivy League) travels to Princeton (6-7, 0-0 Ivy League) tonight in a match that begins its Ivy League season. After two wins this weekend, Penn is at .500 and has won four games in a row. "We're in the best position possible to beat Princeton right now," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "We're really playing at the top of our game." Senior co-captain Katy Stock agrees with Major. "Our team has really peaked at the right time," Stock said. "We have a completely different mentality than we have had in past years. We know we should win. In the past, it hasn't been like that." Princeton has had a stranglehold on the Ivy League for the past four years. The Tigers have won the Ivy League title three of the last four years, including last year's 17-5 season which culminated with a victory over Dartmouth at the Ivy League tournament. Penn has struggled against the Tigers in that time. In fact, no player currently on the Quakers roster has beaten Princeton. The Red and Blue also opened its Ivy league season against Princeton last year and were crushed 3-0. The situation, however, is different this year. The standings in the Ivy League now show Penn in fourth place and Princeton right behind in fifth. Because of the Quakers' winning streak, team confidence is high. The Tigers recent success, though, is still a factor. "It would be a big step for us to beat a team that we've lost to for so long," Major said. "This year, we have a more well-rounded team than they do and our middle is stronger. They have some strong athletes, though, and great outside hitters." Princeton's Rose Kuhn and Sabrina King are the outside hitters on which the Quakers will focus. "Kuhn and King can hit on the line and can hit the angle, so we'll do our best to hit away from them and towards their middle," Major said. Senior Sue Sabatino, who should be a key component to that strategy, is confident in the Quakers' defensive strategy. "We plan to shut down the outside hitters by blocking the line and angle shots, and forcing them to hit tips," Sabatino said. While playing on the outside will be a key for Princeton, good passing will be the primary factor if Penn is to win the match. The Quakers will start freshman Jodie Antypas as their setter. She played a big role in Penn's weekend victories recording 41 assists against Drexel and 45 versus Colgate. "We've been doing really well with our passing game and as long as we have continued success with that, we will be able to run our offense," Antypas said. "Passing is always the key," Stock said. "Usually the team with the higher passing statistic wins the game, and after this weekend, we are confident we will have a high statistic against Princeton." The passing statistic is scored out of three, meaning that a perfect pass gives three hitters the option of hitting the ball. Over the weekend, the Quakers had a passing statistic of 2.4. "We've really stepped it up as far as passing is concerned," Sabatino said. "We've cut down our errors significantly since the beginning of the season." Hopefully for the Quakers, confidence, solid passing and tough outside defense will translate into an historic victory.
Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. And sometimes the best offense is, well, a good offense. The Penn volleyball team looks to continue its winning ways against Drexel on Saturday and Colgate on Sunday at the Palestra. The team has been on a roll, sweeping Navy last Sunday and Sacred Heart on Wednesday by a score of 15-11, 15-5, 15-3. "Every game we're getting stronger," junior Kristel Weaver said. "We take something from every game that we can improve on and work on that." Penn coach Kerry Major agrees with Weaver that all aspects of the game are coming together for the Quakers. "We're really passing well and our offense is coming on," Major said. The offense was a huge factor in Penn's win over Sacred Heart, as its killing percentage was an outstanding 45.5. Major does warn, however, if the team doesn't take care of the basics such as passing and digging, the offense suffers. "When we lose sight of [passing, communication and digging] things fall apart. We can't run our offense," Major said. "We're really trying to play smart," Weaver said. "We're attempting to confuse the opposing defense by hitting both tips right over the blockers, and then harder shots." The Quakers recently potent offense faces an equally powerful attack in Drexel. Drexel is 5-10, but has won three of its last four matches. "Their main strength is their outside hitters and they are also a good passing team," Major said. "Our main focus will be to stop the outside hitters and run a quick offense." Colgate is also strong, as they have compiled a respectable 8-6 record coming into Sunday's game. For the Quakers, communication remains a factor at every game and practice. "Every part of our game relies on communication," Weaver said. "When a ball comes into a zone or when a player goes up to hit a ball, good communication decides whether or not we win the point." One worry for the Red and Blue is a slow start. Against Sacred Heart, the team started out a little lackadaisical before winning the first game. "We found it hard to play against a team with a good offense," Major said of the lethargic beginning. "We have to be careful it doesn't happen again." One concern the team is not focusing on is the future. Penn begins its Ivy League season on Tuesday against Princeton. Then, on Friday, the Quakers face Brown in another tough league showdown. "We're not taking this weekend lightly," junior co-captain K.C. Potter said. "We know that these games will help us get ready for Princeton." "Princeton is important," Major conceded, "but so is Drexel. It's for neighborhood bragging rights. Also, we know we have to beat these two teams to beat Princeton." Another exciting volleyball event occurring next week is the USA National team coming to the Palestra on Thursday to play an exhibition match versus the Peruvian national team. Tickets are $12 and proceeds go to a charity that teaches underprivileged kids how to play volleyball. If the Quakers can have a successful weekend, they can look forward to even better times next week.
The Penn volleyball team looks to improve on their passing game tonight against the Pioneers. Just like Major League Baseball, the Penn volleyball team has its own wild cards -- passing and communication. When the Quakers (2-5) pass solidly and communicate well, they win -- when they don't, they lose. The Red and Blue hope these two key factors will swing in their favor today when they face Sacred Heart (1-5) at the Palestra. "Passing is key. As we become better at it, I believe everything else will fall into place," senior middle blocker Sue Sabatino said. Co-captain Katy Stock agrees, stating, "As long as our passing is consistent and our defense is there, things really come together. They were both there as we beat Navy and played well against Georgetown." Last weekend, all aspects of Penn's game were working. The Quakers stood tough against Georgetown (15-3, 17-15, 15-3), ranked No. 3 in the East, and played their best match of the season when they defeated Navy, 3-0 (15-5, 15-8, 17-15). "We played really well this past weekend," Stock said. "Hopefully we can carry that momentum into the Sacred Heart match and beyond." Sabatino also believes that the Georgetown tournament was a turning point for the team. "I think as a team we pulled together to get the win against Navy. We've seen the level of play we need to be playing at, and I think we know a little better how to get there." Despite the positive team atmosphere, Penn knows it still has a long way to go. During this week's practices, the team has been working on offensive strategies including blocking. "Because our passing and serving was so good against Navy, our concern is offense," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "Spotting the opposing team's blockers and hitting around them has been a main focal point this week," Stock said. A strong offense will be especially important against Sacred Heart, a team who is strong defensively, according to Major. "They just keep coming back with balls and they stay deep for the hard hit balls," Major said. To Major, however, the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team aren't as important as those of the Quakers. "It's one of those games where we really have to concentrate on ourselves," Major said. "They don't do anything real flashy or tricky, we just have to hit positive, pass well and serve well." Communication will also be important. Last week against Loyola, the Quakers failed to communicate at key times during the match -- a factor that led to the loss. This weekend, the communication skills were much better. "We can always work on communication," Stock said. "Against Navy, from the very beginning, we started off communicating and kept it up throughout the match." "I think we communicated a lot better (against Navy)," Sabatino said. "But I still don't think it's at the level it needs to be at." Tonight, if the Quakers pass and communicate well, the Boston Red Sox won't be the only wild card winners.
After winning the first game of the match, the Penn volleyball team lost three straight games to Loyola. Loyola did its best imitation of an opossum last night at the Palestra, playing dead for a game before peeking its head out and grabbing the last three to take the match. The Penn volleyball team (1-4) took the first game 15-13, but Loyola (2-10) adjusted and won the next three 16-14, 15-9, 15-9. "They changed their offense from game one to game four," Penn coach Kerry Major said. "We covered our problem areas and they adjusted to them. They found our holes and we simply didn't adapt when they changed their play." The first game was dominated by Penn early with Loyola making a late charge. Conversely, in the second game Loyola dominated the game early, taking a commanding 10-3 lead. Penn, however, came back to tie the score at 11. But the momentum once again switched and Loyola won 16-14. "The second game was tough," senior co-captain Katy Stock said. "When you come all the way back, you can't lose the game when you have the momentum." The third game was close in the outset with neither team taking more than a two-point lead. With the score knotted 8-8, the Greyhounds pulled away and didn't look back. The Quakers jumped out to a quick 4-0 in the fourth game, but Loyola quickly tied it up at 9. Penn didn't win another point as they seemed to self-destruct by missing serves and not communicating on the court. With the win, Loyola has its first two-game winning streak of the season after losing its first 10. "We came out kind of flat in the first game, but after that game we talked and the players understood their roles on the team and they settled down and started playing," Loyola coach Angie Rutledge said. Flat or not, the Quakers believe that they should have won the game. "We're a better team than they," Stock said. Freshman Jodie Antypas agreed that Penn should not have come out on the short end. "After the first game, we let them into the match and they adjusted to our style of play," she explained. "We let them play their game instead of playing our game." Ironically, the Greyhounds committed more errors than Penn. "We beat them in all statistical categories, which means we should have beaten them in the final score," Major said. For example, Penn committed 13 service errors, way too many, according to Major. Loyola, however, committed 23. On defense, the Quakers had 82 digs compared to 69 by the Greyhounds. Despite losing to a team they should have beaten, the Quakers believe there were some positive aspects to this match. "We played better defense today, better free ball and better down ball," Major said. In addition, Antypas believes that the team's communication and connecting with the middle players on the court also improved. Stock asserted that the loss will make the team mentally tougher for the next game. All players and coaches, however, agree that the team has a lot to work on. "We need to work on picking up ball tips, adjusting our offense and hitting balls to the holes," Major said. Penn will try to improve on these parts of its game over the weekend when they play Georgetown and Navy at the Georgetown tournament. Georgetown beat Loyola 3-0, so the team knows they have a tough road ahead. "It just gets tougher," Major said. "But we know we are getting better every game and we have to keep building on that."
Tigers favored in Ivies Despite a new coach, new strategies, and a new outlook for the Penn women's volleyball team, some things never change -- like the uphill battle the Quakers face against last year's Ivy League powerhouses Princeton and Harvard. Coach Kerry Major is unfamiliar with most of the Ivy League teams having coached on the other side of the country in Alaska last season. "I know Yale and Princeton got some good recruits," Major said. She added that she knew Dartmouth's strengths and weaknesses because the Big Green played her team last year. Right now, however, the Quakers are concentrating on their first few opponents. They don't play a league rival until Princeton on October 6, but when they do, here's what Penn can expect to meet. · Brown finished last year with a 14-17 record, but only two of those wins were within the Ivy League. The Bears' best player is junior Tomo Nakanishi who was First Team All-Ivy last season. She ranked second in kills and fourth in digs in the league in 1997. · Columbia looks to better its '97 mark of 7-23. They will also attempt to win one league match after going 0-7 last year. Columbia also looks to improve in the categories of assists, hitting percentage and kills -- they ranked last in all three categories in the Ancient Eight last season. One bright spot for the Lions is sophomore Rebecca Shumsky, who returns after receiving Honorable Mention All-Ivy last year. · Cornell returns two key players to its team this season, team MVP junior Vanessa Richlin and Honorable Mention All-Ivy recipient sophomore Leah Wiiest. Cornell, which had an 11-18 overall record and 2-5 league record in 1997, ranked, not surprisingly, toward the bottom in most recorded statistics. The team was last in digs and second to last in service aces, assists and kills. · Dartmouth is coming off a strong 24-10 record and third place Ivy season. Junior Anne Murray, Dartmouth's First Team All Ivy representative is returning, as are Second Team All Ivies senior Felicity Kolp and junior Janna Merryfield. · Harvard was the only team to go undefeated in the league last season. The Crimson look to duplicate this feat this year and, in addition, beat Princeton for the season-ending tournament title and the automatic NCAA berth that comes with it. They might have trouble. They lost their best player, Elissa Hart, who was First Team All Ivy last season. They do return junior Linda Jellison, however, who made second team in 1997, as well as honorable mention winners senior Melissa Focum and sophomore Katherine Hart. · Yale had a decent season in '97 with a 14-10 overall record and a 4-3 league record. They were able to recruit some talented new players who Major said she was not able to get because she arrived at Penn too late in the spring. The new players will help senior Rosie Wustrack, who was Ivy League Player of the Year for the second straight year. Yale has a strong service game, leading the league in aces last season and could beat Princeton if Wustrack and the new faces gel. · Princeton continues to be the team to beat this year. Last year they won the NCAA berth and the Ivy tournament, but lost to Harvard in league play, going 6-1. The Tigers lost their two best players in Ayesha Attoh and Stephanie Edwards, but senior Rose Kuhn is poised to take over as team leader after making the Second Team All-Ivy last season. Princeton leads the league in most categories, including hitting percentage, assists and kills.
The Penn women's track team defeated Cornell 86.5-58.5 at Franklin Field Saturday in the team's final dual meet of the season. The Quakers dominated the Big Red, last year's outdoor champions, clinching victory two events before the end of the meet. The win gives Penn three victories over intra-league rivals in just two weeks as the team defeated Princeton and Yale convincingly two weekends ago. "This was an incredible meet," Penn assistant coach Tony Tenisci said. "Everyone exploded, there was total team effort." Penn's depth was confirmed as the Quakers fared well in all categories -- running, jumping and throwing. The Red and Blue swept the 100 meter hurdles, taking first through fifth place, with senior Dawn McGee winning the race. In the 100 meters, Shana Black and Richelle Clements placed first and second, respectively. In the 200 meters, Penn placed first, second and third, with captain Jen Roy winning in 24.7 seconds. Roy also won the 400 meters. "I was really happy with my performance," Roy said. "We were all really pumped up and we came out strong. Overall, it was a wonderful day." The jumpers performed impressively as well with the Quakers sweeping the long jump and the triple jump. The throwers continued the trend with Luana Botelho winning the shot put and Mandy Bennett taking third. Bennett also took second place in the hammer throw. Despite her strong meet, Bennett believes the throwers can accomplish even more. "As athletes, we always believe we can be throwing better," Bennett said. The most memorable event of the meet was the 4x400 relay, where the team of Roy, Vikki Moore, Jessica Mitchell and Sonya Crosswell set a school record, beating the old mark by three seconds. "Everybody on the squad pushed each other," Moore said of the record-breaking race. Moore commented that record was also a result of motivation to earn high seeds for the Heptagonal Championships. The athletes' performances in this meet were their last before seeds for Heps are announced. The contention for seeds was not the only factor driving the team at the meet, as the athletes also competed for the privilege of traveling to England this summer for a competition. The Quakers were successful in this goal as they won 14 spots, compared to Cornell's 10. Tenisci felt that while the trip was motivation, it also created more for the athletes to think about. "There was a lot at stake at this meet," Tenisci said of the pressure surrounding the England trip. "But the team clearly showed that it wants to establish itself as an elite team in the league." The Penn/Cornell team will first visit Ireland for a week followed by a week traveling around England, participating in three meets in the two weeks. In Europe, the team will compete against mostly collegians, but the English team can bring back past competitors, even professional athletes. Penn makes the England trip every four years since they rotate with other Ivy League schools. This weekend, the Quakers will participate in the Penn Relays. This event, however, is more of a fun meet for the team rather than serious competition. Nonetheless, Penn will use the Relays as an opportunity to continue their impressive performances. "We'll use the Relays to keep rising," senior captain Renata Clay said. "We've been on a roll, mentally and physically, and hopefully it will continue through Heps."
The Quakers' throwers led the way in avictory over Princeton and Yale. Here's one for the math majors: take great weather, add the excitement of a first dual meet plus the intensity of competing against intra-league rivals and the result -- a convincing victory for the Penn women's track team. Penn (1-0, 1-0 Ivy League) won Saturday's dual meet at Princeton with a score of 99, defeating Princeton by 45 points and annihilating Yale by a whopping 69. "This was a great meet for everyone on the team," Penn junior Luana Botelho said. "Everyone was ready to compete." Some athletes were amazed at the margin that the Quakers defeated Princeton, the 1997 Indoor Champions. "I expected the meet to be closer," Penn junior Rita Garber said. "I was surprised that [Princeton] didn't do as well." While the Tigers' performance was surprisingly poor, Yale came out better than expected, even despite a low score. Although Yale's score was below the other two teams, it was better than one could have expected heading into Saturday's meet. The Elis fared beyond expectations in the 3000 meter, 1500 meter and the hammer throw. "We weren't expecting much from Yale, but they were a factor in some events," Botelho said. Both athletes and coaches had trouble choosing key events. Senior captain Jen Roy pointed to strong performances both in running and field events as main factors for the team's victory. "The younger throwers in the discus were key as well as the younger jumpers," Roy said. The Quakers did dominate the discus, as freshman Amy Nichols, Botelho and junior Mandy Bennett placed first, second and third, respectively. Roy's mention of the jumping events alluded to the long jump where the Red and Blue also placed one, two and three. Junior Lisa El won the event. Roy also pointed to the 4x100 team -- senior captain Renata Clay, Richelle Clements, Dawn McGee and Shana Black -- as a factor in the competition. The athletes in this event beat Princeton by 0.2 seconds. "The 4x100 team had their troubles through the first few meets this season, but they really pulled themselves together against Princeton and Yale." Penn assistant coach Tony Tenisci also had difficulty in choosing the most important athletes and events of the meet. "Across the board, the team's achievements were excellent," the coach said. "They traveled to Princeton's brand new facility and out-performed the competition." Tenisci believed that both Bennett and Botelho had an outstanding meet. Both athletes set personal records -- Bennett in the hammer and Botelho in the shot put. "I was really happy with my performance in the shot put," Botelho said. "I had struggled in that event in the previous meets, so it's nice to know I can throw that well." Tenisci was also pleased with Garber's performance in the 3,000 meter. Prior to the meet, the coach had felt that the Quakers might be weaker than Princeton in the distance events. However, Garber placed second in the 3,000, surpassing two Princeton runners in the final stage of the race and losing only to a Yale runner. Furthermore, Garber ran the race in less than 10 minutes for the first time. "I had been looking to break 10 minutes for a while, so I was thrilled to accomplish that," Garber said. The team's focus on the meet was also important in defeating Princeton. Some athletes and coaches were worried that the team might look past this meet to next weekend's matchup with Cornell. This concern, however, did not turn out to be a problem. "We wanted to beat Princeton as much as we wanted to beat Cornell," Roy said. If that desire continues, the team should have a very successful rest of the season.
For the Penn women's track team, the real season starts this weekend. Saturday, the Quakers travel to Princeton to participate in a dual meet with Yale and Princeton. This dual competition will be the first of its type for the team this season. Thus far, the women have only competed in invitational tournaments, including last weekend's rain-soaked Penn Invitational. "I feel that Princeton and Yale are really going to bring out the fire in our team," Penn assistant coach Tony Tenisci said. "They are really looking forward to renewing the intra-conference rivalries." Despite this meet including three teams, coach Tenisci believes the real competition will take place between Princeton and Penn. "Yale has a strong team, but they don't have the depth of the two other competitors," Tenisci said. The coach commented that Princeton and Penn are very equal teams. Both schools have similar talent in sprinting and jumping, while Princeton is stronger in distance and Penn is stronger in throwing. "This will be a great track meet with the winner being whoever wants it more that day," Tenisci said. The players and coaches all feel that this season's previous meets have all been in preparation for the Ivy meets, and most believe that these prior competitions have accomplished this aim. "Last week was clearly training for the Ivy meets," Penn junior Mandy Bennett said. "Although we had a good showing, our past three tournaments are not that important in relation to our upcoming matches." The dual meets are similar to the other tournaments as far as events are concerned. The differences lie with the competition -- league opponents make the matches more intense. "We're ready for the dual meets," Penn senior Dawn McGee said. "We have seen that we can perform well in the bad weather, so I am confident we can do well in good weather." A win this weekend not only scores points, but is a good sign for future meets, which carry added benefits. In two weeks, the Quakers face Cornell at home. This meet is not only important for the team's record, but the winners of the individual events also earn a trip to London to race during the summer. Despite the importance of the Princeton/Yale match, some athletes can't help but look forward to the Cornell match. "Cornell is the most important meet," McGee said. "But we are still really pumped up for this weekend." Tenisci also spoke about the Cornell match saying, "Although that meet is important, I hope our team isn't looking past this weekend's race, because it should be a great track meet."
Three meets into the season and the theme of the Penn women's track team seems to be meteorology. For the second straight home meet -- the University of Pennsylvania Invitational -- the Quakers were affected by the weather. "It's hard to comment after a meet like this," said Penn assistant coach Tony Tenisci of Saturday's competition. "After a great week of training in great weather, we were ready to go. But it's hard to feel enthusiastic about competing in freezing temperatures and rain." Tenisci compared running in this week's meet to running on a highway with underwear and a T-shirt. "It's had to get motivated when you think of it like that, but the girls were really brave when they weren't feeling tough." The meet, completed in 40-degree weather with rain, was a blow to the Quakers, who expected better results after practicing in a beautiful climate during the week. Fourteen schools participated in the competition, including Penn State, La Salle, Temple and intra-conference rival Cornell. Despite the weather conditions, Penn junior Mandy Bennett had a personal record in the hammer throw at 38 feet. Bennett, however, did not place well in the discus or shot put. "You hope the weather won't affect you, but it will," Bennett said. For Bennett and the rest of the throwers, the rain was a bigger factor than the cold because the wet surface and slippery implements (hammer, shot put, discus) are harder to handle than the cold. Nevertheless, the fact that the throwers were competing in the cold for eight hours did not help their chances. Of the other sprinters, junior Vicki Moore placed second in the 400 meter and sophomore Richelle Clements placed third in the 100 meter race and fourth in the 200 meters. "It took a lot of focus for the whole team to perform," Moore said of the meet. "We did our best to ignore the weather and do the best we could." Junior Lisa El and sophomore Ruthie Neuhaus led the Penn jumpers with El winning the long jump and Neuhaus placing second in the triple jump. The Quakers hope to find truth in McGee's hypothesis Saturday in Princeton, when for once the forecasts aren't calling for cold rain.
Blue skies and 80-degree temperatures are in the forecast for this Friday and Saturday's Raleigh Relays at North Carolina State, where the Penn women's track team will be competing. The weather will be a pleasant change from the harsh climate at last weekend's Quaker Invitational. Almost every school on the East Coast will be competing this weekend in one of two competitions -- the Raleigh Relays or the Florida Relays. "The Raleigh Relays is one of the biggest events of the season," junior Lisa El said. The "big" event comes on the heels of a decidedly small event last weekend that either was or wasn't, depending on who you ask, a worthwhile warmup for Raleigh. "The Quaker Invitational was important in working out the kinks," El said. But while captain Renata Clay concurs with El, she also sees a downside to the event in relation to the Raleigh Relays. "The Quaker Invitational, because of the weather, might have caused some aches and pains, which might be evident this weekend," Clay said. "However, last weekend also showed us who can compete in that type of weather situation and toughened up those of us that had trouble." The Relays are bigger than a normal meet because not only do more schools compete, but also more races are contested. Like the Penn Relays, the Raleigh Relays will feature all the regular open track and field events, and in addition will have some rarely competed relays. These additional races include a 4x 200-meter relay and a sprint medley. It is these additional races where captain Jen Roy believes the Quakers have a shot at beating a school record. The 4x200 team was only .7 seconds away last year. "This year's relay teams are extremely strong and hopefully they will cash in on a few school records," Roy said. She also pointed to the throwers and jumpers to have strong showings as well. Clay agrees with Roy in her predictions. "A lot of our athletes will fare well in the open events in addition to the extra relays," Clay said. The entire team is looking forward to racing in the nice weather, especially the sprinters. "Competing in the heat makes your muscles a lot looser," Clay said.
When the Penn men's swimming team travels to Cambridge this weekend to take on Harvard, it will go with different motives than a usual dual meet. In other words, the Quakers do not expect to win. Instead, Penn (4-6, 3-6 EISL) hopes to make final preparations for the Eastern Championships. This strategy is probably the best one to take against league-leading Harvard (8-2, 7-1 EISL), according to the coaches. "Harvard is probably the best team in the league despite their loss to Princeton," coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert said. "They are also a pretty big threat for the Eastern Championship meet." "We're not going with the intention of thinking we can win, we're going up with the idea with getting the best preparation for Easterns," Penn coach Michael Schnur said. "It's less of a question of who's winning the meet, and more of a question of what our final swims will be like for the final time before Easterns," coach Lawlor-Gilbert said. The coach could not point out any key matches for the meet because she guessed that the Harvard coach would rest some strong players due to the upcoming Eastern Championships. Lawlor-Gilbert also added that Harvard was a deep team, so they may swim a different string and still be strong. "We really can't be too concerned with who the Harvard coach chooses to rest and swim," Lawlor-Gilbert said. "We have to take care of ourselves." Penn has 17 swimmers and two divers traveling to the Eastern Championships March 5 at Army. The coaches choose these swimmers by their performances throughout the season. Each team takes the same number of swimmers and divers. This meet is the last dual meet of the season, and for those not going to the Eastern Championships, the final meet of the season.
Despite similar records, the Penn men's swimming team (4-6, 3-6 EISL) defeated Columbia (3-6) Saturday at Sheerr Pool 133-108, in what both coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert and Captain Colin Robinson called "by far the best win of the season." "All of the races were key," Robinson said. "Everyone swam well, the freshman swam great, as did the three seniors in their last meet at home. We were really hitting on all cylinders." Penn assistant coach Mike Schnur believes that some races were more important, however, because the beginning of the meet was close. "Nick Sheremeta pulling the 200 freestyle out at the end and Matt Dicker getting second really helped our confidence only three races into the meet," Schnur said. "I've been resting for a couple of weeks, and I really wanted to perform well today, and I did," Dicker said in response to his finish in the 200 freestyle. Schnur also mentioned the 1650 as a key race, where Blake Martin beat his closest opponent by over four tenths of a second. "Martin is one of the best at the mile in the league," Schnur said. Colin Robinson's placing second in the 20 butterfly and Jon Maslow's first place finish in the 100 freestyle drew praise from the coaches for their performances. Although most every Penn swimmer deserved praise for his achievements Saturday, all seemed to agree that senior Rob Hassett was the swimmer of the meet. Hassett, swimming in his final race, placed first in both his events, the 200 breast and the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:57:09, winning by over eight tenths of a second. "[Hassett] really came through today," Robinson said. "It was a great way to end his career with a win." Lawlor-Gilbert concurred, stating that "Hassett performed outstandingly." "I just wanted to end my career on a great note, and I'm glad everything worked out the way it did," Hassett said. The senior pointed to his 200 breast as his most impressive swim where his time was 2:08:73. The Quakers had the lead through the meet, especially toward the middle of the competition heading into the diving events. Lawlor-Gilbert believes the team swam well even with the big lead. "It was an excellent response to seeing that lead at the one meter dive and not getting complacent or soft or lazy. They kept the pressure on and didn't let up," Lawlor-Gilbert said. The coach also believes that although the team lost the final event, the 400 freestyle medley, had the race been closer at that point, the Quakers would have won the race. In diving, Kyle Goldbacher continued to impress, placing first in the one meter dive and third in the three meter event. The Quakers have the week off and then they travel to Cambridge the following week to face a tough Harvard squad. For now, however, Penn can relax and enjoy this impressive win.
The Penn men's swimming team was dominated by Brown but nearly stole their match with Army. Last year Penn men's swimming team lost to Army on the final relay of the competition. Last Saturday at Scheerr Pool, history repeated itself as Army defeated Penn 122-121, clinching the win on the final relay. Penn (2-4, 1-4 EISL) also lost to Brown 177-65 as the Quakers competed in their first and only three team dual meet of the season. Although Penn matched-up against both Brown and Army, the match with the Cadets was its main focus in preparing for the meet. "Brown probably had rest and is a very talented team," Coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert said. "We are closer to Army in terms of talent and in terms of match-ups, and they always seem to bring out the best in us," Captain Colin Robinson said. Robinson also noted that last year's loss put the focus on the Cadets. The races between the Quakers and the Cadets were close throughout the day with many matches decided by hundredths of a second. Despite placing first in six of 10 events, the Quakers' standing in the competition was decided on the final race of the day, the 400 medley relay. By the second leg, Army had pulled out in front. Penn made a last dash to catch up in the final hundred, but the Cadets nevertheless won by over a second. "We could have won a hundred different ways, and instead we lost a hundred different ways, and that's really tough to deal with," Robinson said. Lawlor-Gilbert agreed with Robinson, stating, "when you lose by one point, it's team-wide." Standout swimmers included Robinson, who placed first in both the 200 individual medley and 200 butterfly and third in the 200 breast event. The 400 free relay team of Jon Maslow, Brian Barone, Craig Nelson and Paul Poggi placed first. Senior Rob Hassett also swam well, placing first in the 200 breast stroke. Maslow placed second in the 100 freestyle race, missing first by six tenths of a second. Assistant coach Michael Schnur believes that losses in the close races such as Maslow's have a big impact. "If you change two or three tenths of a second, it's a 30 point blow-out for us," Schnur said Lawlor-Gilbert believes that despite losing many races by small margins, those matches boosted team spirit. She mentioned freshman Blake Martin's comeback in the 1000 freestyle race to place second as a factor that raised morale. "Although everybody swims in their own events, performances like that give the team a 'yes I can' attitude," Lawlor-Gilbert said. In the diving competition, Penn's Kyle Goldbacher placed first in the one meter diving and second in the three meter diving. Penn's next meet is this Saturday at Navy, another talented team. Robinson said he believes that the Quakers always swim well against Navy, but they have a very talented diving squad. "We look forward to a hard-fought effort, which this team gives every week," Robinson said. Lawlor-Gilbert is a little more skeptical about the upcoming competition. "Navy is stronger than we are. We're going to swim them straight-up, but we're going to have our hands full," she said.
The Penn men's swimming team ended the first part of the season on a high note, placing second in the LaSalle Invitational Tournament last weekend. The Quakers (1-2) scored 436.5 points in 40 swimming and two diving events, losing only to LaSalle. The tournament was a two-day meet which began Friday night and ran through Saturday afternoon. In addition to having many events in a short time period, Penn was also at a disadvantage by having competed in a dual meet with Swarthmore two days prior to the tournament. "Our swimmers were not shaved and were not rested, whereas many of their opponents were," Penn coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert said. "So the competition was a test to see how our swimmers would do in somewhat adverse circumstances." Despite the unfavorable conditions, Lawlor-Gilbert was pleased with the results. Sophomore Jon Maslow placed in the top three in both the 100 freestyle and the 50 freestyle. The 1650 team of Martin Rigby, Tom Ubaretta, Graham Nelson and Matt Dicker also put points on the board. Captain Colin Robinson likewise fared well, placing second in the 200 butterfly and narrowly missing first place by a couple tenths of a second. Penn echoed its results from its last meeting with LaSalle in the tournament in 1995, when the Quakers similarly placed second. Penn swimming is now off until January 10, when they face Rutgers in a home, dual meet. "Rutgers will be a very tough meet," Lawlor-Gilbert said. "They are a scholarship school, division one, and will be a force to reckon with because they have some strong swimmers."
Despite a disappointing 137-104 loss at Cornell on Saturday, the Penn men's swimming team answered important questions about its youth and training style. The highlights of the loss included sophomore Jon Maslow's victories in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events and freshman Blake Martin's win in the 1,000-yard freestyle. The Big Red, however, placed first and second in the two individual medleys, results which were a primary factor in the loss. "Freshman Tom Uybarreta had his best time ever in the medley, but they still one-two'd us," Quakers coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert said, illustrating Cornell's dominance in that event. Penn diving, however, fared better than its counterpart as Kyle Goldbacher won both the one-meter and three-meter events. Cornell had a true home advantage, as a large crowd turned out for its first competition. "It was a hostile environment in that they had a good crowd," Penn captain Colin Robinson said. Because of the youth of the team, no one knew exactly what to expect from the Quakers in their first meet. "We went to Cornell with a lot of unknowns," Robinson said. The questions surrounding Penn's freshmen included how they would adjust to a dual meet atmosphere under pressure, and if they could take their hard training and transfer it to the pool. "The first-year swimmers all come from different programs and have different training styles, so we didn't know the effect of Penn's training until the first meet," Robinson said. Another question the team answered was how some upperclassmen would fare racing in different events than usual. "What we found was that the team came together well, and we put in an all-around team effort," Robinson said. "The hard training definitely paid off. Many swimmers could have raced better, but aside from a win, all you can ask for is that the team will compete hard and that's exactly what happened." Both Lawlor-Gilbert and Robinson felt that a big reason for the loss was a difference in training. The discrepancy in style was evident, as Cornell started out every race fast, but slowed as the match persisted. Penn's swimmers, however, became stronger as each event finished. "All of the ends of their races were horrible," Robinson said. "They just died at the end of every race." "We focus on the season as a whole, whereas Cornell put their focus on just this race," Lawlor-Gilbert said. "You could tell they were well rested." The loss will not change the Quakers' training methods. Lawlor-Gilbert points to Martin's win as a testament to the team's endurance. "Blake stayed with his older, more experienced opponent for much of the race, and towards the end he started to pull away, which shows we definitely are in good condition," she said. Lawlor-Gilbert sees no need to make extreme changes as the team prepares for its next meet, at Princeton today at 7 p.m. Nevertheless, she does feel the the more experienced swimmers on the squad need to race better. "My upperclassmen still need to hone and tighten up their events," Lawlor-Gilbert said. Robinson believes the Princeton meet will be difficult. "They are one of the better teams in the league and even in the country," Robinson said. "We just have to swim tough and keep gaining experience."