Princeton, N.J. - The Quakers played their toughest match of
the season, fighting off match point on multiple occasions to come away with
the come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Princeton in Dillon Gym and earn their
second straight Ivy League championship.
Penn found themselves down to match point three times in the
fourth and once in the fifth set, but came back every time, as they have all
season. The Quakers finished with a 29-27 fourth set victory and took the fifth
16-14 in dramatic fashion, on the way to their second straight title. Penn won
the first set, 25-22, but dropped the second and third, 25-27 and 24-26 to set
up the late game drama and comeback.
The Red and Blue improve to 12-2 in the Ancient Eight and
earned a share of their second consecutive Ivy League title. The Quakers are
now tied with Yale at 12-2 and have to play the Bulldogs on Sunday at 1 p.m. to
earn the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
In a match which had heroes all over the court, it was the defense
which led Penn to the title, recording a season-high 15 blocks and 103 digs,
including 18 digs in the final set. Senior Madison Wojciechowski had nine of
the 18 and finished with a season-high 36 digs in the match. At the net, it was
sophomore's Lauren Martin and Amanda Pacheco, and freshman Susan Stuecheli who
provided the big block. Martin finished with a career-high seven block assists,
while Pacheco added seven total blocks and Stuecheli totaled eight.
Penn had a balanced offense with four different players
totaling double-digit kills. Senior Julia Swanson led the team with 18 and was
followed by Martin, Pacheco and Stuecheli, who had 16, 15 and ten respectively.
The Quakers got off to a strong start in the opening set,
going up 13-6. Princeton got back within two
at 19-17, but a kill by Pacheco and an ace by junior Logan Johnson made it
21-17 as Penn finished with the 25-22 win.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair which featured
eight lead changes and five ties. Even at 23, the Red and Blue went up on a
Tiger attack error, however two straight by Princeton
made it 25-24. The Quakers tied it up on another attack error, but the Tigers
scored the final two points.
Princeton road its momentum
into the third set, opening up a 17-13 lead and prompting a Penn timeout. Out
of the break Megan Tyron was called for a bad set, but from there the Quakers
scored nine straight to turn an 18-13 deficit into a 23-18 lead. However, the
Tigers didn't give in, scoring six straight to go up 24-23. Pacheco tied it up
at 24 on a kill, though two straight kills by Cathryn Quinn ended it 26-24.
Both teams kept at it in the fourth, as neither could get a
lead larger than four. With Penn leading 22-20, the Tigers scored three
straight. Trailing by one, the Red and Blue scored two straight to take back
the lead. The teams continued trading points with set point in the balance
until a kill by Pacheco tied it at 27 and two more from Swanson ended it,
In the final set Princeton
came out with the early 7-3 advantage. Penn called a timeout to regroup, and it
paid off as the team scored three straight to make it 7-6. Unable to take a
lead, the Quakers tied it at 9, 11, 12 and 13 before an attack error put them
on the verge of defeat. A kill by Stuecheli tied it at 14 and Penn scored the
final two to win in stunning fashion, 16-14.
In addition to Wojciechowski, four other players reached
double-figure dig totals. Swanson was second with 15 while Tryon added 14,
Johnson had 12 and freshman Dani Shepherd contributed ten. Tryon also dished
out 52 assists and served two aces.
Now 16-10 overall, Penn looks to punch its ticket to the NCAA
Tournament when the team takes on Yale Sunday in New Haven at 1 p.m. During the
regular season the two teams split their meetings with each winning on their
home court. The Red and Blue won in four at the Palestra and the Bulldogs beat
Penn in three in New Haven.
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