PHILADELPHIA - Penn (6-11, 2-5 Ivy) completes a three-match homestand by facing rival Princeton on Friday night at 7 p.m. inside The Palestra. The match is this season's Dig Pink match and all fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. It also serves as the lead-in to The Line, which will run overnight and into Saturday.
Following the Red and Blue
Penn fans that can't be in attendance can follow all the action on Friday through live stats. Live video is also available for the match through the Penn Sports Network.
Last Time OutPenn fell in a pair of matches last weekend, losing to Brown on Friday night and Yale on Saturday. Versus Brown, the Quakers won consecutive roller-coaster sets to take a 2-0 lead into the locker rooms. The Bears then somehow swung momentum in their favor, winning the final three sets by the narrowest of margins, 25-23, 25-23 and 15-13. Amanda Pacheco hit .405 with 18 kills in the match while Emma White supplied her fourth straight double-double with 10 kills and 19 digs.
A night later, Yale pulled away from the Red and Blue after a tight first set, winning the match 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-19), only the second time this season that the Quakers had been swept. White had her double-double streak end, but did manage a team-high 12 kills. Pacheco again led Penn in hitting percentage, smashing 10 kills with a .304 average.
Penn Versus Princeton
The Tigers lead the all-time series with Penn by a 44-28 margin. After the Quakers swept Princeton in two matches during the 2009 Ivy League championship campaign, the teams split the regular-season series in 2010, Princeton winning the Ivy League season opener and Penn winning the final regular season game of the year. Both matches went five sets with the visiting team pulling out the victory.
Last month at Princeton, the Tigers squeaked past Penn in the third straight five set match between the two programs. The Quakers were in control for much of the first three sets. Princeton never led in both the first and third sets, 26-24 and 25-20 wins for Penn, and the Red and Blue had the majority of the statistical advantages in the second set, which they lost 25-19. Trailing 2-1, Princeton was able to turn the match around in the final two sets, hitting .271 in the fourth and .389 in the fifth to suppress any Quaker rallies. Penn ended the match ahead in kills, hitting percentage, assists and digs, but eight service aces by the Tigers combined with a number of ball-handling errors whistled on the Quakers ultimately led to a 0-1 league start.
Scouting the Tigers
Princeton enters Friday's match tied with Yale at 6-1 for the Ivy League lead, and just knocked off the Bulldogs last week in four sets. The Tigers can thank their sterling record in five-set matches for much of their success this season. At 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Ivies in five-setters, Princeton has taken advantage of every late-game opportunity presented to them. The Tigers boast the top two players in the Ivy League in kills and points, Cathryn Quinn and Lydia Rudnick. Rudnick is first overall in kills per set at 3.72 with Quinn chipping in at 3.59, but Quinn leads in overall points, at 4.46, due to her team-leading totals in blocks and aces. The pair have both been honored as Ivy League Player of the Week in the past month. Setting the table for the duo is freshman setter Ginny Willis, second in the Ivies in assists at 9.91 per set. Hillary Ford is 28th in the nation in digs per set at 5.22 while Quinn and freshman middle blocker Nicole Kincade spearhead the Ivy League's second-best blocking unit.
Penn will be wearing pink on Friday night in honor of the Side-Out Foundation. Founded by Rick Dunetz, a high school volleyball coach who was inspired by his mother's battle with breast cancer, the Side-Out Foundation is committed to awareness and fundraising efforts with the goal of eradicating this disease by 2020. Quaker volleyball is doing its part in this fight by setting the goal of raising $2,500 to donate to the organization in 2011. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made in-person at Friday's match or with a credit card here.
Dani Shepherd's 6.28 digs per set place her third in the latest national rankings. The sophomore libero has stepped in admirably for Penn's all-time digs leader, Madison Wojciechowski, and this season has submitted four of the top ten all-time single game dig records in program history. Shepherd's 41 versus Alabama broke Wojciechowski's previous record of 40 in a match and she then shattered that mark in a five-setter against Harvard with 45. Wojciechowski holds Penn's top four single-season digs records but even her best statistical season, 607 digs in 109 sets in 2009 for a 5.57 digs per set average, puts her well short of Shepherd's current pace.
Amanda Pacheco has appeared in all 69 sets for Penn this season, the only player on the team to have done so. The junior middle blocker tops the team in kills (183) and hitting percentage (.296), and is second on the team in kills per set (2.65), blocks (50) and points per set (3.10).
The Mendoza Line
Opponent's hitting percentage is an important indicator of Penn's success this season. The Quakers are 6-4 when holding the opposition below .200 in the match, and conversely are 0-7 when opponents are above that mark.
Despite their 6-11 overall record, the Quakers have actually outscored their opposition by 18 points on the season, holding a positive point differential in every set but the fifth. The second set has been Penn's strongest so far. The Red and Blue have won the second 11 times in their 17 matches and hold a +18 advantage in that set alone.