Penn-Northern Arizona Box Score (pdf)
Penn-UC Riverside Box Score (pdf)
Berkeley, Calif. - The Penn volleyball team shrugged off a tough start to the day on Saturday and left California on a high note, sweeping UC-Riverside 25-17, 25-20, 25-17, after a four-set loss to Northern Arizona (19-25, 12-25, 25-21, 17-25) earlier on. For the second week in a row, Emma White was named to the All-Tournament team, this time after leading the Penn offense with 37 kills while also coming up with 54 digs. The Quakers (3-3) return home next weekend to host George Mason, Radford and Rutgers in the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational.
Northern Arizona 3, Penn 1
Facing an undefeated Northern Arizona team in Saturday's opener, Penn tried to rise up and meet the challenge presented by the strong Lumberjack attack, but an attempted rally fizzled out late in the fourth set as NAU moved to 8-0 with a 25-19, 25-12, 21-25, 25-17 win.
Northern Arizona used its quick-strike offense to take a 1-0 lead after the first set. Already up a point at 9-8, NAU went on a 5-0 run for a 14-8 lead, forcing Penn into its first timeout of the match. Coming out of the break in action, the Quakers responded with five straight of their own to pull back within a single point. That would become a recurring theme for the remainder of the set as the Lumberjacks continued to stymie the Red and Blue just when it seemed the Quakers were about to pull even. Still up a point at 19-18, Northern Arizona's second five-point swing of the set proved too much for Penn to overcome in a 25-19 defeat.
If speed killed Penn in the first set, then power was the culprit in the second. Given a number of clear hitting lanes, Northern Arizona hit .423 in the set, taking control early on and never allowing the Quakers to get closer than four points, even though a Penn timeout momentarily lifted them out of the doldrums after trailing 9-2. Janae Vander Ploeg in particular gave Penn fits, throwing down seven kills on 10 attempts without an error in the second set.
A more focused and hungry Penn team emerged in the third set, rising to meet Northern Arizona's big hitters at the net and forcing some doubt to creep into the unbeaten team's psyche. A trio of Quaker hitters - Kristen Etterbeek, Amanda Pacheco and Emma White - each contributed four kills to the effort as the Red and Blue outhit NAU for the first time in the match. Trailing 19-18, Penn scored seven of the final nine points of the set to earn a 25-21 win keyed by defense despite the improved offensive output. White had a team-high six digs in the set on her way to 21 in the match.
With a chance to come back and force the match to a fifth set, the Quakers weren't able to sustain the momentum as the fourth set wore on. The two squads traded the lead back and forth early and things seemed destined to come down to the wire as nine ties resulted in only a 10-10 deadlock. It was then that Penn's attack errors finally came back to haunt them. Back-to-back misses gave Northern Arizona a 12-10 lead and though Susan Stuecheli would twice pull the Quakers back within a point, the Lumberjacks ended the match on an 8-1 run to pull away for the 25-17 victory. Penn tallied 12 kills against 13 errors to aid NAU in the set.
White had a team-high 13 kills along with her 21 digs to secure her third double-double of the season. Stuecheli was also a big presence at the net with nine kills and five blocks (one solo, four assist). Ronnie Bither had a double-double of 34 assists and 12 digs while Dani Shepherd led the back row with a match-high 28 digs.
Penn 3, UC-Riverside 0
After falling behind quickly to Northern Arizona and forced to play catch-up, Penn learned its lesson and took the match to UC-Riverside from the very beginning in the tournament finale, winning 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.
After feeling each other out and trading points for much of the first set, the Quakers unleashed a 7-1 run to put them in control with a 20-14 lead. Susan Stuecheli was right in the middle of the action with three kills and a solo block during the critical stretch. UC-Riverside would get no closer than four points the rest of the way and Lauren Martin and Amanda Pacheco finished the set off with a block with a big rejection of the Highlanders' Amanda Vialpando, one of five blocks in the set for Penn. Emma White was busy with five kills and six digs in the first set alone.
Things got sloppy for Penn at the beginning of the second set. Back-to-back attack errors gave UC-Riverside its largest lead, 10-7, and forced the Quakers to burn a timeout. Immediately after play resumed, the Red and Blue reeled off six straight points to grab a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The Highlanders managed to hang within striking distance despite their deficit and were trailing by only one at 20-19. After a service error gave Penn just a bit of breathing room, White took over with three straight kills, giving the Quakers a set point that Pacheco cashed in for the 2-0 edge.
Given the comfortable two-set lead, Penn put its foot on the gas, leading wire-to-wire in a 25-17 third set victory. The defense put the clamps on any hopes of a Highlander comeback, forcing UC-R to hit -.022 in the third. Kills from Martin and Pacheco as well as a block from the pair helped the Quakers gain a quick 4-0 lead from UC-Riverside, who had to use a timeout to stem the tide. The Highlanders gradually found their footing, pulling to within one at 10-9, but the Red and Blue again answered with four points in a row to re-establish themselves. Three consecutive attack errors in the late stages erased any hope of a comeback for UC-Riverside.
White had a match-high 13 kills as well as 24 digs, leading five Quakers who reached double-figures in the category. Ronnie Bither came up with 34 assists for the second match in a row, setting Penn up for success on offense.