PHILADELPHIA -- Senior Night for the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team could hardly have been more thrilling. The Quakers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force the decisive fifth set with Harvard, in front of a loud and supportive home crowd in The Palestra Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Red and Blue were unable to finish as the Crimson took the final three points to win the intense five-setter, (25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 21-25, 15-11).
Junior captain Alexis Genske put up a single-match high 22 kills alongside 14 digs – her eighth double-double of the season, while fellow junior Alex Caldwell had a double-double of her own with 14 kills and 32 assists. Freshman Kendall Covington also produced a single-match high with 10 kills. In 15 total attempts, Covington produced no errors and finished the night hitting .667 for another single-match high. Penn’s 12 blocks is tied for the most recorded this season. Seniors Kendall Turner and captain Trina Ohms led the efforts at the net with six and five blocks, respectively.
After a one-sided first set and a close second set, the Quakers came out of the locker room in need of a spark for set three. A kill by Covington tied the set at 6-6 and gave the Red and Blue the spark they were in need of. Penn went on to score four points in a row, three of the points coming from a kill from Genske, service ace from freshman Emmy Friedler, and block by Ohms and Turner. A Crimson attack error added the fourth point for the Quakers’ 10-6 lead. Harvard closed the gap and took an 18-17 lead after three straight kills, only to extend it to 21-18. However, a service error by Caroline Walters stopped the Crimson’s momentum and the Red and Blue evened the score at 21-21 with a kill from Genske and a block from Turner and Genske. The final six points of the set were awarded from kills, and the Red and Blue’s four gave them the 25-23 set three win.
Penn rode the momentum from the win into the fourth set, where junior Ronnie Bither and Turner began the scoring with a block. The home crowd roared with excitement and the Quakers used it to their advantage, going ahead 8-5. Harvard closed the gap and once again began a back-and-forth battle, but the Red and Blue answered to gain the edge with a 20-18 lead and went ahead for a 25-21 win.
The noise level in The Palestra seemed to reach its max as the crowd and Quakers cheered and whistled with excitement; and it only continued as the Red and Blue forced the Crimson to call a timeout after jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Unfortunately for Penn, Harvard’s early timeout proved to be affective as the Crimson came back and reached eight points first. The two teams switched sides and Harvard continued its strong offensive efforts. Covington recorded back-to-back kills to put the Quakers within one at 11-10, but the Crimson powered through and ended the set with three points in a row, 15-11.
The Red and Blue will hit the road one final time next weekend when they travel to Yale and Brown to close out the season.
Download: Penn vs. Harvard Boxscore2.pdf