Penn Athletics will be inducting its Hall of Fame Class VIII this Saturday, May 5 at the Inn at Penn. As we prepare for the upcoming ceremony, we will be introducing each inductee over the next several days. Click here to find the original release on all the inductees, from February 22.
Since the award was first given in 1987, there have been just four women who have been named Ivy League Player of the Year two times.
Since the first All-Ivy team was announced in 1978, five women have earned first-team All-Ivy all four years they played.
In both cases, only one of those women hailed from Penn. In both cases, that player was Melissa Ingalls.
Ingalls was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 1986, when she led Penn to the Ivy League Tournament championship with a 3-0 win over Princeton in Cambridge, Mass.
The Ivy League began formal round-robin play in 1987. That year, Ingalls was named the Player of the Year as she led the Quakers to a perfect 7-0 conference campaign and the Ivy League's inaugural regular-season championship. Penn went 24-10 overall that season, a win total that remains third in program history for one season.
One year later, the Red and Blue went 17-15 overall including 6-1 in Ivy play to repeat as the regular-season champion. Once again, Ingalls was named the Ivy League Player of the Year.
In 1989, Penn finished with a 14-16 overall record and tied for second in the Ivy League regular season with a 4-3 mark. A captain of that Quaker unit, Ingalls was not named Ivy League Player of the Year that season -- Yale's Cathy Bell received the honor -- but the Penn player had the last laugh. Playing in front of its home crowd at The Palestra, the Red and Blue won the Ivy League Tournament with a 3-0 win over Harvard in the final. After losing in the tourney final in both 1987 and 1988, it was a sweet exit for arguably the greatest player in Penn volleyball history.
Ingalls was named team MVP three times, from 1987-89, and remains the only player to be honored so many times. The MVP award has been presented every year since 1981.
As a sign of her versatility, Ingalls graduated as the program's all-time leader in two very different statistics -- kills (1,129) and digs (1,313) -- and was second all-time with 155 service aces. Nearly 25 years after her graduation, Ingalls' kill and dig totals remain third on Penn's all-time lists, while her service ace total is fourth.
"Growing up in Southern California in a Pac-10 family, Penn was not on my radar screen. Then, the incomparable Joe Sagula came into my life. I can still remember sitting with Joe and my parents at Kelly & Cohen's during my recruiting trip, listening to Joe extol all that Penn had to offer, and somehow, almost instantaneously, I knew I wanted to go to Penn and play for him. We don't often make the best decisions at 17 years old, but luckily I made one of them and became a Quaker. Good thing, because Joe Sagula made me a far better athlete and leader than I ever could have become without him. I owe so much of this incredible, humbling honor to him and his commitment to me during my four years at Penn. Receiving this award has brought back so many memories -- Weightman Hall, two-a-days, running to the Art Museum, road trips, winning Ivies, losing Ivies, sprained ankles, finally getting to play volleyball in the Palestra -- but more than all the practicing, training and playing, what I seem to remember most is how much fun we had, how much we laughed, even when we cried, how much my team loved and supported each other. That is Penn for me -- the friendships and bonds formed so long ago that shaped me and my life and endure to this day. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the unending love and support of my parents. They were and still are my biggest fans, and I am beyond thrilled that I am able to share this Hall of Fame honor with them."