Volleyball Battles It Out In Final Two Matches

STANFORD, Calif. – In the finale of the West Coast slate, the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team fell to Duke in four sets (26-24, 17-25, 15-25, 16-25) in Maples Pavilion Saturday evening as part of the Stanford Invitational. Earlier, the Quakers dropped a tightly contested three-set match to No. 1 Stanford (17-25, 23-25, 22-25). The Red and Blue are now 2-5 on the season.

Junior captain Alexis Genske was named to the All-Tournament Team. She recorded the most kills total for Penn throughout the tournament with 24. Genske also contributed 30 digs and three blocks.

Penn 0, No. 1 Stanford 3 (17-25, 23-25, 22-25)
Even though the team fell to No. 1 Stanford in three, the Quakers kept up with the Cardinal in the late Saturday morning contest in Maples Pavilion. On 19 different occasions throughout the match, the two teams had a tied score. Genske led the offense with 11 kills and hit .400. Freshman Aimee Stephenson and senior captain Trina Ohms also contributed nine and eight kills, respectively.

Despite Cardinal Inky Ajanaku recording the first point of the match, an error by the middle blocker was the start of a four-point Quaker run. Ohms and Genske contributed kills, while junior Alex Caldwell produced a service ace in between the kills for an early 4-1 lead. Stanford chipped away at the lead and tied set one at 13-13, but freshman Kendall Covington pulled the Red and Blue ahead with two straight kills. The crowd erupted as a media timeout was called. Once the teams were back on the court, the Cardinal responded with three of their own kills. Penn regrouped during a timeout and Ohms put down her fourth kill of the set which evened the score at 16-16. However, Stanford remained on the attack and scored nine of the next ten points to win set one, 25-17.

A tight back-and-forth battle began and continued throughout set two; three points was the largest margin either team led by. Ohms tallied her sixth kill of the match and tied the match at 23-23. The Cardinal matched her kill for the 24-23 advantage and ended it with a block.

Penn once again took an early lead for the start of the third set. Stephenson extended the Quakers’ lead to 15-11 with a kill right before the media timeout. Stanford closed the gap and took their first lead of the set at 18-17. It would be the final lead change of the match as the Cardinal went on the win, 25-22.

Penn 1, No. 20 Duke 3 (26-24, 17-25, 15-25, 16-25)
After battling for the set-one win, the Red and Blue fell short in the next three matches against the Blue Devils in the early Saturday evening competition in Maples Pavilion. In the first set alone, the leader changed nine different times and the score was tied 16 times. Genske once again led the offense with 10 kills and also contributed 17 digs.

The many Penn fans in the stands saw quite a show in set one, as the Quakers and Blue Devils battled for every point. Neither team gained a larger lead than a margin of two. A kill by Genske put the Red and Blue just one point shy of the set victory at 24-22, but a block and a kill from Duke tied the score up, once again. Going behind the line for the serve, Blue Devil Breanna Atkinson came up short and put Penn in position to take the set. On the next volley, Stephenson tallied her fourth kill and the win, 26-24. The Pavilion was filled was not only loud and joyous cheers from the team but from the fans as well.

Genske and Caldwell also finished the first set with four kills.

A service ace from freshman Emmy Friedler capped off four-consecutive points that were awarded to the Quakers at the beginning of set two. After a few long volleys between the teams, the Blue Devils climbed their way back to tie the score and then take the lead at 6-5. From there on out, the Red and Blue tried keeping up but Duke powered through to take a 17-10 lead. Back-to-back kills from freshman Hayley Molnar swung momentum in Penn’s favor, as the Quakers went on to claim four more points to come within two of the Blue Devils, 18-16. A Duke timeout gave the Blue Devils the edge they needed as they scored six in a row. A block by Caldwell and junior Michellie McDonald O’Brien put pressure on the Blue Devils but Duke’s power hitter Emily Sklar ended that set at 25-17.

Sets three and four were much like the second. The Red and Blue played strong and fought to keep tough balls in bewteen the lines. Duke capitalized on a few more opportunities and won the match after a third set 25-15 victory and a 25-16 fourth set win.

Penn will travel back to the East Coast on Sunday. Next week, the team will prepare for its final tournament of the season – the Big 5. The Quakers will host the event in The Palestra starting next Friday.

Download: Penn Duke Box.pdf