PHILADELPHIA - Head Coach Kerry Carr and the Penn volleyball team released the tentative 2013 schedule on Tuesday as the Quakers strive to reclaim their spot at the top of the Ivy League. The Red and Blue will challenge themselves in three non-conference tournaments - one at home in The Palestra - before beginning the 14-game tournament known as conference play.
The season will begin later than usual, with the opening matches of the season coming on Sept. 6-7 in a tournament hosted by the University of Maryland. In addition to matching up with the Terrapins and AVCA honorable mention All-America outside hitter Ashleigh Crutcher, Penn will face LIU-Brooklyn and Kansas City. Maryland ended last season with a 17-15 overall record, and Crutcher was honored after a sophomore season in which she averaged 3.79 kills per set. LIU-Brooklyn returns nearly all its key contributors from a team that went 25-8 and a perfect 16-0 in Northeast Conference play on its way to the NCAA Tournament. Coming out of the Summit League, the Kangaroos recorded a 17-win season and will be led by Emma Hagedorn, a member of the league's All-Freshman team a season ago.
The next week sees the Quakers come back to The Palestra for their first home matches of the season. On Sept. 10, the Red and Blue welcome Delaware into town. A few days later, Penn will host neighbors La Salle and Temple on Sept. 14-15, with American and Weber State rounding out the field in this year's Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational. Due to the timing of the Yom Kippur holiday, matches will not begin until after sundown on Saturday evening, with a full day of matches to follow on Sunday.
The Quakers went 1-1 against their two city rivals last season, defeating La Salle in four sets, but falling to Temple - who had one of the nation's biggest turnaround seasons - in four sets in the season opener. American will visit The Palestra as the likely preseason favorite in the Patriot League. The Eagles had a 21-win season in 2012, but lost the Patriot League final to miss out on the NCAA Tournament. They return two first-team All-Patriot performers in Morgan Hendrix and Sara Rishell. Weber State will be the second Big Sky opponent for the Quakers in as many years after a hard-fought loss to Northern Arizona in 2012. The Wildcats are coming off an 11-21 season. Due to the number of matches scheduled for such a small window, Penn will not play La Salle at this tournament, instead traveling to Tom Gola Arena on Sept. 30 for a 7 p.m. tilt.
Penn's final non-conference tournament will have the Quakers trekking to the Main Line to complete their tour of Philadelphia-area rivals as Villanova will host a four-team round-robin on Sept. 20-21 at the Jake Nevin Field House. In addition to the Wildcats, Norfolk State (14-20 in 2012) and Sacred Heart (10-20) will fill out the field. The Red and Blue closed out last year's Big 5 Tournament with a convincing 3-0 sweep of Villanova, who will likely look to Lauren Carpenter and Carly Edwards to anchor their squad in 2013. This will be the 16th consecutive year that Penn and Villanova have met, with the Quakers holding a slim 8-7 lead in that time.
The Ivy League season will open on Sept. 27 when Penn takes on Princeton at Dillon Gymnasium. That match kicks off a stretch of three consecutive Ivy weekends on the road, as the Quakers follow that with trips to Columbia and Cornell (Oct. 4-5), and to Yale and Brown (Oct. 11-12).
Depending on how the Quakers come through that stretch, the schedule could play right into their hands, with seven of the final nine matches of the season inside The Palestra. Home matches against Harvard and Dartmouth (Oct. 18-19) close out the first half of Ivy League play, then Princeton pays a visit on Oct. 25. The month of November begins with Cornell and Columbia making the trip south (Nov. 1-2) for what will be Penn's fourth and fifth straight matches at home.
The lone road trip during the second half of the Ivy League season will be on Nov. 8-9, starting with Dartmouth and ending at Harvard. The Quakers will then return home to close out the regular season, entertaining Brown on Nov. 15, before celebrating Senior Day on Nov. 16 against the defending Ivy League champions, Yale.
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