PHILADELPHIA The University of Pennsylvania (9-15, 6-6) volleyball team ended Cornell’s (19-4, 12-1) hopes of the first undefeated Ivy League season on Friday night by defeating the Big Red 22-30, 30-25, 30-20, 25-30 and 15-10.
Cornell clinched at least a share of the Ivy League title with its victory over Columbia on Monday and came into the weekend looking to win its final two matches of the regular season and become the first Ivy League school to go undefeated in the 14 match schedule. But Penn was not about to let the Big Red continue its journey to destiny on their home floor.
Game one was a sign of things to come for the rest of the match. Nine tie scores and six lead changes in the first game set the tone for the night. Cornell led 15-14 and scored the next three points to hold of the Quakers from gaining any ground. The Big Red reeled of four points to take a 29-21 lead which sured up the first set.
The Red and Blue took a five point lead early in game two thanks to three consecutive attack errors by Cornell. Penn promptly gave up its lead and fell behind by three and then six, but they showed great determination to even up the match. The Quakers chipped away and got the score down to two. After a Cornell service error, Anna Shlimak helped serve the Red and Blue to the lead. Penn scored five consecutive points, including two service aces by Shlimak. The Big Red converted the next two points, but Penn closed the game out with the final three points to tie the match at 1-1.
Game three was a stepping stone for the Quakers who were swept by Cornell on Oct. 15. Despite falling behind early, the Red and Blue tied the score at 15 a piece. Penn took the next two points then committed a service error to make it 17-16. The Quakers then went on a run that set the tone for the rest of the match. The Red and Blue went on a 9-0 run to take a commanding 26-16 lead that let the newly crowned Ivy League champs know what they were in for.
Cornell took the momentum back in game four. They played with the lead the entire match and only allowed Penn to tie the score once. Despite three more kills and four more digs than the Big Red, Penn lost game four.
For the Quakers, it was just their second five game match of the season and their first at The Palestra. The Red and Blue took the momentum back from Cornell right out of the shoot in the fifth set. They got out to a 3-1 lead, which did not seem like a big deal at the time, but proved to be enough in the 15 point game. Penn never relinquished its lead. The Big Red cut the Penn lead to one only one time. The Quakers then scored three points in a row to sustain its lead. After a Cornell timeout, they took the next point to make it 8-6, but the Red and Blue took the next two and were able to hold of the first place Big Red and clinched the victory on a Cara Thomason kill.
Coach Kerry Carr was elated with her team’s focus. “We were confident and knew in game five that all we had to do was focus for 15 points and we would come out with the win” she said.
“After game two we had their number and we knew exactly what we had had to do on offense and defense to expose Cornell’s weaknesses and win the match” stated Carr.
Four Quakers reached double-digits in kills. Kathryn Turner had 13 and Laura Black 16. Thomason and Shlimak recorded double-doubles. Thomason had 18 kills and 30 digs, while Shlimak tallied 17 kills and 23 digs. Linda Zhang had 10 digs and dished out a season-high 62 assists. Elizabeth Hurst put forth another solid defensive effort, leading all players with 33 digs.
On Saturday,Penn hosts Columbia at 4 p.m and close out the season on Wednesday Nov. 16 when they host Princeton at 7 p.m.
Written by Matt Kirsch, athletic communications assistant