PHILADELPHIA - In a season of dramatic finishes, the Quakers added one more chapter, going five sets and a little extra to take down Columbia in a grueling victory on Friday night at the Palestra.
On the verge of victory at 14-10 in the final set, Penn let its lead slip away by dropping five consecutive points. Leading 15-14 the Lions went for the kill, setting up sophomore Megan Gaughn for the game winner. The point never materialized as Megan Tryon and Susan Stuecheli made a huge block in the middle to send the ball back to the far left corner of the court and tie the match at 15.
Off the serve Gaughn tried again, but was dug by Tryon. Madison Wojciechowski got to the ball and passed it off to Lauren Martin who fired home the kill. Now trailing 16-15, Gaughn got another chance but was denied, this time on a game-ending block by Swanson and Stuecheli.
Swanson was all over the place for the Quakers, who finished with the 25-20, 19-25, 23-25, 25-18, 17-15 comeback victory. The senior ended the night with 26 kills, a career-high 30 digs and six block assists. The 26 kills were one short of a career high, as were the six blocks. Stuecheli also came up big defensively, finishing with eight block assists and eight kills on offense.
Penn opened the match with a convincing 25-20 win in the first set. The Red and Blue used a 6-1 run midway through to grab a 16-9 advantage and didn't look back as the Lions were unable to get any closer than three.
The Quakers found themselves in a 7-1 hole to open the second. They tried to climb back but could never get any closer than five, dropping the set 25-19. Penn showed more resolve in the third, playing even with the Lions through the first 22 points. However, the Red and Blue were unable to take the lead, tying it again at 16 before dropping five straight put the set out of reach.
Needing a victory in the fourth, Penn broke open an 11-11 tie with four consecutive points. The Lions got back within three at 17-14, but the Quakers responded with four straight once again, putting the set out of reach and winning 25-18.
In the final set, the Red and Blue scored the first four. Columbia got back within one at 6-5 before a Swanson kill made it 7-5. Neither team could get an advantage until consecutive kills by Swanson put the Quakers up 14-10, setting up the late match drama.
Tryon had a superb all-around performance, finishing the evening with a season-high 62 assists and 13 digs. Wojciechowski was active defensively with 28 digs while freshman Dani Shepherd and junior Logan Johnson contributed 15 and 11 respectively. The 112 digs by the team is the most for the Quakers since they had 123 against Fairfield in 2007.
Penn also had a season-high 72 kills, with sophomores Amanda Pacheco and Martin joining Swanson in double figures with 12 and 16 apiece.
The win moves the Red and Blue's record to 12-10 overall and 8-2 in the Ivy League. With Princeton and Yale both winning tonight, all three teams all still tied with two league losses apiece. Princeton takes on Columbia on Saturday, while Yale hosts Harvard.
Columbia dropped to 6-5 in the Ancient Eight and was led by Gaughn, who finished with 16 kills on 68 attempts. Defensively, the Lions totaled 99 digs, with 24 coming from Katherine Keller.
The Quakers return to action Saturday when they take on Cornell at 5 p.m. Saturday also serves as senior night, where the team will honor six who are playing their final match at the Palestra.