COLLEGE PARK - In a back-and-forth battle to start the 2013 season, the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team was edged by LIU Brooklyn in five sets, 3-2 (25-20, 28-30, 22-25, 25-20, 15-5). The match opened the University of Maryland Invitational and took place Friday night.
With a five-point run being the highest total of points scored in a row -- that didn’t happen until set five, for LIU Brooklyn (2-2) -- the competition between the Quakers and Blackbirds was fierce.
In the first set, the Red and Blue were able to take the lead after an attack error by LIU’s Mirjana Rajic and then kills from senior Kristen Etterbeek and junior Trina Ohms. However, they soon fell behind; after being on top 7-6, Penn could not reclaim the lead and fell, 25-20.
Penn came back in set two with more fight, scoring three points in a row to win 30-28 -- the last point coming via an attack error by Blackbird Tamara Ignjic. The Quakers produced 20 kills, their highest for a set in the night. Sophomore Jasmine DeSilva had six kills in the set and senior Dani Shepherd contributed seven digs.
The win provided momentum for the team, and the Red and Blue took the lead in the match with a third-set win. The 25-22 victory was sealed by a kill from Etterbeek, one of her four in the set, and Penn hit .341 as a team in the game.
The momentum was not sustained in the fourth set, however, as Penn fell behind by as many as nine. Despite back-to-back three-point runs after that deficit, it was not enough to catch the Blackbirds, who won 25-20.
Tied at 2-2, the match was won by LIU Brooklyn which started the set on a five-point run and ended it on another five-point streak. The Quakers struggled to regain control and ended the night with 37 attack errors, while LIU Brooklyn only committed 22.
Penn head coach Kerry Carr used this first match to test the team’s new strengths and saw aggressive play in the heat of the moment. Three players -- DeSilva, Etterbeek, and sophomore Michellie McDonald-O’Brien -- ended the night with double digits in kills with 16, 14 and 12 respectively. Etterbeek also posted 13 digs and sophomore Alex Caldwell added 14. Shepherd topped the leader board in digs for Penn with 22.
Penn will continue to play in the University of Maryland Invitational on Saturday, taking on UMKC at 11 a.m. and playing the host Terps at 7:30 p.m.