PHILADELPHIA - The Quakers make their second straight appearance in the NCAA Volleyball Championship when they take on MAC champion Ohio University, Friday evening at 5 p.m. in the Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University.
Penn has won 13 of 14 and enters the match at 17-10 after clinching the team's second straight Ivy Championship and postseason appearance on Nov. 21. The Bobcats come into Friday's match with a 21-12 record, fresh off the program's third straight Mid-American Conference Championship. Ohio has won six of seven overall, with its last loss coming at the hands of No. 13 Dayton.
Penn secured its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 3-2 victory over Yale on Sunday, Nov. 21. The Quakers were leading 2-0 before dropping sets three and four against the Bulldogs. The Red and Blue fought back in the fifth set, going on a 5-0 run to take the lead for good and win 15-8.
Scouting the Bobcats
MAC Champion Ohio finished 10-6 in conference play, but stepped it up a notch in the postseason tournament, winning each of its three matches 3-0 to clinch the program's third straight MAC Championship. Senior Sue Jacobi was named the tournament's MVP after recording 18 kills and ten digs against Northern Illinois in the final. Jacobi leads the Bobcat offense with 4.22 kills per set this season, a number which is 22nd in the nation. Jacobi also leads the team with 36 service aces (.29) and is second on the team in digs with 2.65 per set. Junior Katie Post is also instrumental for Ohio, leading the team with a .334 hitting percentage while firing 2.80 kills per set. Defensively, the middle blocker is ranked 10th in the nation with 1.42 blocks per set and has served up 30 aces on the year. As a team the 'Cats are the top blocking team in the nation, averaging an impressive 3.09 per set. Conversely, they are ranked 269th in the country in digs, with just 13.23 per set. In addition to Post, Lexie Hartnett (1.17) and Raith Robins (.83) also make their presence felt at the net while Meryle Bender leads the back with 3.39 digs per set.
NCAA Championship History
The Quakers are making their second straight trip to the NCAA Championship and fifth overall. Last season the Red and Blue won the program's first-ever tournament match, defeating Army 3-1 in the opening round. In the second round Penn took a 19-16 lead on eventual national champion Penn State in the first set, but couldn't capture the upset, falling to the Nittany Lions 3-0. Prior to 2009 the Quakers were 0-3 with losses to Pittsburgh (3-1, 2003), Penn State (3-0, 2002) and UCLA (3-0, 2001).
The Ivy League in the NCAA's
Prior to Penn's victory over Army, the last Ivy League team to earn an NCAA victory was Yale in 2008. That year the Bulldogs beat Ohio in five sets to advance to the second round. Overall the Ancient Eight holds a 3-16 record in NCAA Championship play.
The Quakers captured their second straight Ivy League championship on Wednesday, Nov. 17 with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Princeton. Penn trailed 2-1 but took the final two sets, 29-27 and 16-14 to capture a share of the program's 10th Ivy championship. The team also went back-to-back when the Quakers won titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The ten titles are the second most in Ivy history, behind Princeton's 14.
On a Roll
The Red and Blue have won six straight matches since their 3-0 loss on Oct. 30 to Yale, which dropped them to 7-2 in the Ivy League and 11-10 overall. Since the defeat, Swanson took her game to the next level, averaging 4.28 digs, 3.75 kills and .96 blocks per set over that stretch. As the team the Penn defense has been a revelation, averaging 19.68 digs and 2.64 blocks per set. Madision Wojciechowski (5.04), Julia Swanson (4.28), Tryon (2.68), Logan Johnson (2.52) and Dani Shepherd (2.40) have been strong in the back, while Susan Stuecheli (1.55), Swanson (.96), Amanda Pacheco (.92) and Lauren Martin (.68) have been a force at the net.
Late Game Drama
The Red and Blue have gone to five sets in each of its last two matches and three times in the team's last six matches. Over that stretch the Quakers are 2-0 when trailing 2-1 going into the fourth set and 1-0 when up 2-1 after three sets.
Penn is the only team in the Ivy League to have two players average over 3.00 kills per set during the regular season. Swanson led the team with 3.33 kills per set while Martin hit 3.00 per set. Pacheco was third on the team cranking out 2.59 kills per set and hitting a team-high .347.
Penn is 17-2 when holding opponents to hitting .200 or less. The Quakers' lone losses came in five-set defeats at the hands of Villanova (9/4) and Princeton (10/1). Conversely, the Red and Blue are 0-8 when allowing an opponent to hit over .200.
One for the Record Books
Wojciechowski recorded a season-high 36 digs against Princeton, tied for the third highest total of her career and then added 24 against Yale on Nov. 21. The two totals extended her streak of matches with at least ten digs to a school-record 36 matches. Overall she has recorded double-digit digs in 100 of 107 career matches. Additionally, her 552 digs this season are the second highest single-season total in school history, trailing her 2009 total of 607.
Can You Dig It?
Wojciechowski has four matches with at least 30 digs this season. She had 30 against Yale, 33 digs against both Villanova and Princeton and 36 against Princeton. Overall she has 11 matches with 30+ digs and owns seven of the top ten dig totals in school history, including the top two spots.
Tryon became the program's all-time leader in assists earlier this season, passing former Quaker Heather Glick (3,582). She finished the regular season with 3,757 assists and now owns both the career and single-season (1,328) marks for assists. She also has three straight seasons with at least 1,000 assists.
Swanson has been a double-double machine for the Quakers during Ivy League play, totaling 12 in 14 matches. The senior has 48 career double-doubles and earlier this season became just the third player in school history with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She currently ranks second in career kills (1,238) and sixth in digs (1,103).
Penn recorded a season-high 15 total blocks on Wednesday, Nov. 17 against Princeton. It was the most for the Quakers since they recorded 15 against Harvard, Nov. 7, 2008. Stuecheli led the defensive charge with eight total blocks, her third match with at least eight total blocks this season. Her 87 block assists on the season are the most since Natalie Drucker had 91 in 2007 and are the second highest total in the last decade. She is also the first player since Drucker in 2007 to average over 1.0 block per set (1.05).