Volleyball Drops a Pair to Open 2016

HOUSTON, Texas – The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team dropped a pair of matches on Friday, as they opened the season at the Houston Baptist Labor Day Classic in Texas. The Red and Blue dropped their first match to Toledo, 3-2 (17-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17, 10-15), before falling 3-0 (16-25, 20-25, 23-25) to Houston Baptist in the nightcap.

Toledo 3, Penn 2

Hayley Molnar, Sydney Morton and Taylor Cooper all recorded career highs in the match against Toledo. Molnar led the Quakers with 10 kills, while Cooper had five of her own. Morton tallied a pair of career-bests in the form of 29 assists and four kills.

More Numbers
Emmy Friedler led the way for Penn with 22 digs, while Michelle Pereira followed with 16. The Quakers hit .125 as a team, while Toledo clocked in at .237. The Rockets out-blocked Penn by a margin of 9-4.

Quaker Debuts
Zoe Macartney and Caroline Furrer each put together solid Red and Blue debuts against the Rockets. Macartney was especially impressive, hammering six kills on just 10 total attempts. Furrer picked up a pair of put-aways.

How it Happened
The Rockets, who had already played three times prior to Friday, showed to be the more seasoned team early on. Toledo jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, on the way to a 25-17 opening triumph. The Quakers tied the score at 10 apiece, but never led in the game.

It was more of a back and forth affair in the second, with four ties, and Penn grabbing a trio of early leads. The Rockets finally seized momentum when a Gracey Tuifua kill, followed by an ace from Maurissa Leonard, gave them a 12-7 edge. Toledo kept that five-point lead for much of the second set, before a 9-5 run from the Red and Blue cut it to just 24-23. Fighting off four match points in the process, Penn’s run was halted there, as a kill from Saige Thomas finally closed the door on the Quakers.

With their backs against the wall, the Quakers roared back in third. Down 13-8, the Red and Blue put together an 11-0 run to grab a 19-13 lead. Kills by Macartney and Aimee Stephenson sparked the rally, while consecutive put-aways from Courtney Quinn and Cooper supplied a 16-13 edge. Back-to-back Toledo errors capped off the 11-point stretch. Macartney struck again to lift the Quakers to a 23-18 edge, while Furrer supplied Penn with a match point at 24-19. The Quakers sealed the deal by way of a Toledo error, 25-20.

Penn’s momentum continued into the fourth, as the Quakers stormed out to a 9-1 lead. Fueled by a pair of aces from Friedler and three kills from Macartney, Penn held on to a 7-8 point edge for the majority of the game. Kendall Covington gave the Red and Blue a 19-12 lead, while a Quinn kill yielded a 22-16 edge, and then sealed the set at 25-17.

The fifth and final set began much like the second, with both teams exchanging one-point leads. It would be a quick 4-0 stretch from Toledo that would ultimately be the difference. Down 5-3, the Rockets used a pair of Penn errors, followed by a kill and an ace, to grab a 7-5 lead. Toledo would extend that lead to 13-8 on another ace, before finally winning the set, 15-10.

Houston Baptist 3, Penn 0

Inside the Numbers
Quinn paved the way offensively with a career-high 15 kills, to go along with six digs. Molnar was also in double figures for a second-straight game with 10. Another career high was had by Grace James, who dished out 13 assists. Morton added 14 helpers.

How it Happened
It was a tight first set, as both teams seemed to feel each other out. Furrer provided the first spark for Penn, tallying a kill and an ace in back-to-back plays to tie the score at 6-6. Toledo compiled the first run of the match, putting together an 8-3 stretch to take a 15-10 lead. The Quakers wouldn’t get closer than that, and the Rockets ran away with a 25-16 win.

It was another 8-3 run from Toledo that seized the momentum in the second set. Kills from Melissa Fuchs and Sophie Zielinski, followed by an ace by Bailey Banks, gave the Huskies a 16-10 edge. The Quakers would go on to cut the lead to one at 18-17 after a kill from Molnar. Following a Houston Baptist timeout, the Rockets closed out the set on a 7-3 run to seal the game, 25-20.

The third set dispensed the most drama of the match, as the Quakers ran out to a 9-4 lead. A Covington kill and an ace by James capped off the stretch. Toledo answered back with a 9-1 stretch of its own to earn a 13-10 lead. The Quakers climbed back from there, and following three ties, finally took a 23-22 lead. After a HBU timeout, the Huskies rattled off the final three points to finish the sweep.

More Notes
Freshman Lauren McLeod joined her classmates Furrer and Macartney, making her Penn debut against Houston Baptist.

Up Next
The Quakers will be back in action tomorrow, taking on North Florida (11 a.m.) and Northern Colorado (5:30 p.m.).