Bulldogs and Bears Await Volleyball this Weekend

PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will conclude its month-long road trip this weekend in New Haven and Providence. Penn will first take the court with Yale Friday evening in Lee Amphitheater at 7 p.m., and then Brown Saturday in Pizzitola Center at 5 p.m.

Live Video/Stats

A live video feed for the matches on Friday and Saturday will be provided by the Ivy League Digital Network. Four packages are available to purchase, including a $9.95/day pass for everything Penn. See http://www.ivyleaguedigitalnetwork.com/packages for full details.

You can also follow all the action on live stats:

Yale Live Stats

Brown Live Stats

Links for the video stream and stats can also be found on Penn’s volleyball schedule.

Previously on the Court

This past weekend, the Quakers (7-7 overall, 1-2 Ivy) traveled to New York for the first Ivy overnight of the 2013 season. Penn broke even this weekend with a five-set heartbreaker at Columbia and a five-set win at Cornell.

Penn first travelled to the Big Apple in hopes of notching its first Ivy victory against Columbia, (3-9 overall, 1-2 Ivy). After a second set struggle, the Quakers took set three and were up, 2-1. With one more set win needed for the match victory, things turned sour as the Red and Blue could not withstand the intensity brought by the Lions, resulting in a close set-four loss and another loss in the fifth set, thus losing the match (25-22, 11-25, 25-20, 23-25, 7-15).

In search of redemption, the Quakers moved on to their next target. In Ithaca, Penn once again took a first set win and second set loss. Then the Big Red took the third set and it started to look grim for the Red and Blue. Determined to not finish 0-2 on the weekend, the Quakers snagged their first Ivy win with rallies in the fourth and fifth sets (25-22, 21-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13).

Sophomore Alex Caldwell hit for a .321 attack percentage and claimed her third triple-double this season at Cornell: 13 kills, 34 assists, 10 digs. Freshman Arielle Winfield closed the night with 13 kills and a .346 attack percentage.

Scouting the Bulldogs

The first leg of the Quakers’ trip will take them to Yale, who swept the court on Friday and Saturday with wins over Harvard and Dartmouth. The Bulldogs (9-3 overall, 3-0 Ivy League) remain the only team undefeated in the Ivy League. Not only did the win over Dartmouth solidify Yale’s top spot in the league this week, it gave the Bulldogs their 28th straight Ivy regular season home victory.

To snap the streak, Penn will need to keep tabs on kill leaders Mollie Rogers (120) and Jesse Ebner (104). Ebner was tabbed as Co-Ivy League Player of the Week, which was her second honor this season, and currently holds the second-best hitting percentage (.403) in the Ivy League. Ebner hit .533 this past weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth. On defense, Maddie Rudnick has accumulated 187 digs (4.56 d/s) and McHaney Carter leads with 30 blocks.

Scouting the Bears

For the second leg of the trip, Penn will find the Bears waiting in their den for the Quakers’ arrival. Brown (6-8 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) came into contact with Harvard and Dartmouth and also claimed two wins over the weekend. The Crimson and Big Green, added as Brown’s first Ivy win, were taken in five: Brown 3, Harvard 2 (22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 15-10)/Brown 3, Dartmouth 2 (20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 16-14).

Kill leaders to look out for are Thea Derrough (128) and Maddie Lord (127). Derrough earned Co-Ivy League Player of the Week, her second honor this season, for her performance this past weekend which included a career-high 20 kills and .421 attack percentage against Harvard. Brown comes with defensive weapons from the likes of Payton Smith at the net with 45 blocks and Kathryn Conner in back with 179 digs (3.58 d/s). In addition, Alexandra Rieckhoff is just behind Conner with 168 digs (3.23 d/s).

The Triple-Double Threat

Down 6-2 in set-four against Cornell, a kill from sophomore Alex Caldwell started the Quakers on a six-point streak. The Big Red stopped the Red and Blue at 8-7, but Caldwell pushed Penn ahead with another kill, followed by a service ace. The Quakers went on to claim set-four and advanced the match to a final set. In the fifth set, tied at 13, Caldwell edged the Red and Blue ahead with a kill, and on the next serve, won Penn the match with the set-winning kill. Against Cornell, Caldwell finished with a triple-double (13 kills, 10 digs, 34 assists) and a hitting percentage of .321.

However, Cornell wasn’t Caldwell’s first rodeo, as she reached triple-double territory twice before this season -- her first coming against Delaware (10 kills, 11 digs, 23 assists) and her second against Temple (10 kills, 14 digs, 29 assists).

Last year, Caldwell recorded seven triple-doubles and six double-doubles.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Despite the 1-2 Ivy record, the Red and Blue are an unpredictable team, which is by design. Three of the Quakers have reached triple-digits in kills for the season: senior captain Kristen Etterbeek (159), sophomore Jasmine DeSilva (149), and sophomore Alex Caldwell (124). Defensively, five Quakers boast triple-digits in digs: sophomore Alexis Genske (181), senior captain Dani Shepherd (167), Etterbeek (154), Caldwell (108), and sophomore Ronnie Bither (100). Both Caldwell and Bither also have triple-digits in assists (357 and 289 respectively).

According to Head Coach Kerry Carr, she witnessed her team come up with new strategies to keep the momentum high and then employ them in their rally for the win against Cornell.

If the Quakers are able to continuing digging for every point, swinging for every kill, and keeping up the momentum, there’s no telling how the team can be stopped.