PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team is set to begin the 2013 campaign this weekend at the University of Maryland Invitational in College Park, Maryland. The tournament starts Friday evening and concludes Saturday, with all matches taking place at the Comcast Center.
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Last year, the Quakers finished 13-12 overall, and went 8-6 in Ivy League play. The Red and Blue, the only school opening their season in the invitational, open play at 5 p.m. on Friday against the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, who enter the tournament with a 1-2 record. The Blackbirds competed in the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. on August 30 and 31, falling to Duke and no. 9 Florida on day one and sweeping New Orleans day two. When the match between Penn and LIU Brooklyn comes to an end, host Maryland will take on the University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos at 7:30 p.m.
Penn returns to the court first on Saturday to face UMKC at 11 a.m. The Kangaroos come to College Park with a 1-2 record after competing in the Arkansas Invitational. UMKC split day one, losing in three to New Mexico and winning in three over Northwestern State. They finished the tournament with a loss in three against host Arkansas.
Penn closes the tournament with a showdown against the host Terps. Maryland played in the GW/Nike Invitational in the last weekend of August and is sitting on a 2-1 record. The Terps swept George Washington but saw tough competition in Ole Miss. Maryland finished on top, winning 3-2, but lost to UMBC in three. Saturday’s final match between the Quakers and the Terps commences at 7:30 p.m.
Penn’s 2013 captains are captains outside hitter Kristen Etterbeek, middle blocker Susan Stuecheli, and libero Dani Shepherd. Etterbeek ended last season second on the team in kills per set (2.73) and third in digs per set (3.37). She set Penn’s single-match season high with 20 kills in a rematch with Brown on November 3. Stuecheli, an All-Ivy honorable mention, posed an impressive 28 solo blocks and led the Ivy League. She also led the team and finished second in the Ivy League with 1.17 blocks per set. Dani Shepherd led NCAA Division I at 6.56 in digs per set and was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. The first-team All-Ivy libero was nominated as one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. The three seniors will return to the lineup in hopes of claiming the Ivy League championship. Among the many standouts wearing red and blue are sophomore setters Ronnie Bither and Alex Caldwell, who were both named Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice.
Head Coach Kerry Carr recruited freshmen Rachel Baader, Lexi Slotkoff, and Arielle Winfield who will all compete for playing time. This season will allow Carr to experiment with lineups. The fierce competition against opponents and for starting positions should fuel the Quakers for an exciting season.
University of Maryland Invitational Schedule
Friday Sept. 6
Penn vs. LIU Brooklyn, 5:00 p.m.
Maryland vs. UMKC, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday Sept. 7
Penn vs. UMKC, 11:00 a.m.
Maryland vs. LIU Brooklyn, 1:30 p.m.
UMKC vs. LIU Brooklyn, 5:00 p.m.
Penn vs. Maryland, 7:30 p.m.