PHILADELPHIA – It was a Sunday filled with plenty of volleyball as day two of the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational came to a close with exciting wins for the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team. The Quakers (3-4) played in two of the day’s five matches, first facing-off with Temple University -- 25-23, 13-25, 19-25, 25-21, 16-14 -- and closing with Weber State University -- 17-25, 26-24, 17-25, 25-18, 15-10.
The Red and Blue pushed both matches to five sets, which were the only in the tournament, and the matches were nothing short of thrilling to watch.
Day two opened for the Quakers at noon in the Palestra against Big 5 rival Temple. Set one began with the normal back-and-forth until senior captain Kristen Etterbeek came down with a kill, tying the score at five. Etterbeek stood behind the line to serve, helping the Quakers to a 7-5 advantage. It wasn’t until a service error by Owl Jennifer Iacobini, giving Penn a 18-16 lead, that the Quakers were able to maintain the point advantage and finish on top, 25-23.
The second and third sets were a bit of a struggle for Penn on offense but it turned around in set four.
An attack error by Owl Gabriella Matautia gave Penn the first point. A few serves later, a hard kill by freshman Arielle Winfield started an energized four-point streak, followed by a service ace from sophomore Alex Caldwell, block by Winfield and sophomore Jasmine DeSilva, and ended with another hard kill by Winfield. The Owls gradually caught up with the Quakers and even had a point advantage, but the Red and Blue saw to it and went on another four-point streak, ending the match with an exclamation point by Etterbeek, who smoldered the Owls with two kills in a row and claimed the fourth set victory, 25-21.
Penn started set five strong and with a lot of momentum. The Quakers reached eight first (8-5) and kept the Owls at bay. Anticipation was high and the Owls gave the Quakers quite a scare when they took the advantage 14-13. A kill by DeSilva led to the 14-point tie and it was only a matter of time before one of the teams won by two. Etterbeek slammed two attacks in a row to solidify the W against Temple.
The Quakers reached an impressive team block total of 12 and made Head Coach Kerry Carr excited and proud of her team.
Three players finished with double-digits in kills: DeSilva (19), Etterbeek (16), and Caldwell (10). Caldwell also picked up 29 assists and 14 digs. Sophomore Alexis Genske led in digs with 30.
The Quakers took the court later with Weber State --the last opponent of the day and the final match of the invitational.
Weber State looked confident and took set one. Penn, who wouldn’t let them claim two in a row, fought through a four-point run at the end by the Wildcats to take set two.
Set three got away from the Quakers, who slipped to an 8-2 deficit. The difference was too much and the Wildcats took set three.
Everything seemed to turn around in set four for the Quakers. The stamina and enthusiasm the Wildcats were bringing each set diminished and it showed in the score. The Red and Blue seemed to gain what the Wildcats lacked.
Penn had come alive.
Endurance was high and held a 21-14 lead. A few serves later, the Quakers brought the heat with a kill by junior Trina Ohms, holding off Weber State 25-18.
It didn’t take long for Penn to pull away in the fifth set, again reaching eight first (8-5). The Red and Blue laid it all on the line and never let up, taking the last three points of the game. A kill by Wildcat Rebecca Fuchs was the last point Weber State would score. Etterbeek blasted two more kills, setting up the match point. Ohms received a nice set by Cladwell and locked the win with another set ending kill, 15-10.
The Quakers will rest this week and prepare for the Villanova University Tournament (September 20-21) where they will play Norfolk State, Sacred Heart, and host Villanova.