PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team came out with a win over Big 5 rival La Salle in its last non-conference match of the season Monday night at the Tom Gola Arena. After a slow start, the Quakers defeated the Explorers, 3-1 (21-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-21).
The Red and Blue (6-6) didn’t seem to be fully awake in set one against the Blue and Gold. During the set, the two teams were tied nine times with the turning point for La Salle (1-19) coming at the 8-point tie. Penn was able to tie the score two times after that but could never capture the lead and fell, 25-21.
Reenergized, the Quakers began second set with the first two points and maintained the lead until the last point scored.
Penn gradually increased its lead and really put the pedal to the metal on a six-point run that started with a kill by sophomore Alex Caldwell to make the score 17-11. Caldwell went behind the line and served an ace, with the next point resulting from an attack error by Explorer Jennifer Whelan. Freshman Arielle Winfield committed a kill for the fourth point, which was followed by two more attack errors from Explorer Rachel Finkbeiner. The score was 22-11, and the deficit was too much to handle for the Blue and Gold, who fell 25-14.
Sets three and four ended with the same score, 25-21, in favor of Penn.
The third set was propelled for the Quakers after a ball handling error by Explorer Michelle Healy. Four points later, the Red and Blue were up 6-2. The somewhat cushy lead slowly diminished as the Blue and Gold refused to give up. After a La Salle timeout, the score was tied at 21, but the Quakers went on to claim the next four points for the win.
Penn was down 8-3 in the fourth set, after La Salle gained three points in a row and then followed it with four more. The Red and Blue called a timeout, but the Explorers seemed determined and snagged a few more points, 10-4. The Quakers snapped out of their daydream and went for six straight points to tie the score at 10. Winfield claimed two points with kills, as did senior captaion Kristen Etterbeek. The other two points were won off of attack errors by Explorers Michelle Healy and Jennifer Whelan. La Salle grabbed one more point before Penn went on its longest point streak of the season. Eight points in a row pushed the Quakers' lead to 18-11, which was enough cushion for them to claim the set and end the match, 3-1.
Etterbeek led the team in kills with 14 and was followed by Winfield with 10. For the defense, senior captain Dani Shepherd led the team in digs with 20. Etterbeek (16) and sophomore Alexis Genske (13) also cracked double digits.