PHILADELPHIA – On Saturday, the second day of the Villanova Classic Invitational, the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team (5-5) captured its first sweep of the season against Sacred Heart but fell to host Villanova in four sets.
The Quakers began the Saturday afternoon match against Sacred Heart 2-0. After being down 0-8 in set three, the Red and Blue rallied their way to sweep the Pioneers 3-0: 25-0, 25-15, 28-26.
Tied at four in set one, Penn went on a six point streak -- started by a service error from Pioneer Ana Gonzalez. Sophomore Jasmine DeSilva followed with a kill, and senior Kristen Etterbeek kept the streak going with a service ace. The Pioneers would commit two more errors, and sophomore Ronnie Bither finished the run with a kill to make the score 10-4.
The deficit was far too high for the Pioneers to climb. The Red and Blue stretched their lead to ten points three times and kept Sacred Heart at bay, allowing them to only come as close as four points, 24-20. Pioneer Kiki Robinson committed the game-winning point for Penn with a service error.
In the second set, Penn found itself on a four-point run, shortly followed by a five-point run which stretched the lead to 12-3. The Quakers pulled ahead to a ten-point lead four times, with the last time being the final score, 25-15.
The Red and Blue found themselves in a rut when they started the third set, and fell behind 8-0. Slowly, they made their way back but still trailed 15-9. A kill by junior Trina Ohms led the way for a seven-point gain by the Quakers. Three of the points resulted from attack errors by Sacred Heart, one point came from a service ace by junior Meghan Connolly, and the run ended with two kills by junior Kendall Turner to give Penn the 16-15 advantage.
An error by the Quakers would even the score at 16. The teams continued to trade points and found themselves dead locked seven times, with the last tie coming at 26 from a kill by DeSilva. Once again, Connolly had the magic touch and served up an ace. For a second time, the Pioneers committed the game-winning point for Penn, ending the set 28-26 and gave the Quakers their first sweep of the season.
Ohms racked up six blocks in the match and the team totaled 11.
Later that evening, Penn faced off with host Villanova and struggled to seal the deal after a 25-21 set-one victory.
Connolly stepped behind the line first for the Quakers and started the set 4-0. The Wildcats clawed their way back and evened the score five times before pulling ahead for a steady three-point lead. Villanova led, 18-15, until sophomore Alex Caldwell notched a point with a kill. Two Wildcat errors, two kills by DeSilva, and an ace by Caldwell gave the Quakers the advantage, 21-18. The Red and Blue tamed the Wildcats to a 25-21 victory.
The following three sets went a neck-and-neck, but Villanova prevailed with three victories -- 25-22, 25-20, 25-23 -- winning the match 3-1. Sophomore Michellie McDonald-O’Brien ended the match with 14 kills, followed by Etterbeek with 10. Bither and Caldwell had 22 assists apiece, and sophomore Alexis Genske had 18 digs.
Penn took second place in the tournament (2-1). Etterbeek and fellow senior captain Susan Stuecheli were named to the All-Tournament team.
The Quakers will be back in action and start Ivy League play when they travel to Princeton this Friday.