PHILADELPHIA If one thing is for sure in Ivy League volleyball, Penn and Harvard are arguably the two most evenly-matched teams in the League. In their second meeting this season they managed to take their match to the limit once again -- and once again, Penn won, 3-2.
The Quakers (9-11, 4-5 Ivy) were in control early bywinning Games 1 and 2, 30-22 and 30-20. The Crimson (9-12, 3-7) evened the match up by winning the next two games, 30-27 and 30-28, before the Red and Blue won the decisive Game 5, 15-12. In addition to this being Penn's second-straight five-game win over Harvard this year, it was also the Quakers' second-straight five-game win overall -- on Friday they beat Dartmouth by the same score.
The score remained close in the first game until Penn went on a 4-0 run to go ahead 23-18. The Quakers then used two separate three-point runs to put the game away. Up by four late in Game 2, the Quakers used a four-point run to take a 26-18 advantage that put the Crimson away.
Despite trailing 29-23 late in Game 3, Penn almost pulled off the comeback, as three-consecutive kills and a Harvard attack error pulled Penn within two.However, aservice error by the Red and Blue gave Harvard its first game of the evening.
The Quakers came back strong in Game 4 and built up a nine-point lead just past the halfway point. It was at that point that the Crimson started chipping away; Harvard went on a 6-0 run to make it a 19-16 game, then kept it a four-point game most of the way until mountingtheir big comeback. Trailing 27-23, Harvard scored the next five points to take a 28-27 lead. Penn tied the score on a kill by Laura Black, but the Crimson scored the final two points to force a Game 5.
Neither team could pull away in the final game until the score was 11-10, when consecutive kills by Anna Shlimak proved to be enough breathing room for the Red and Blue. Although Harvard converted consecutive kills, Shlimak answered back with another kill, and then Harvard committed an attack error that gave the Quakers their second five-game win in as many nights.
Black and Shlimak led the Quakers with 18 kills apiece. Natalie Drucker (13) and Elizabeth Semmens (12) also reached double digits in kills. Linda Zhang (51) and Kira Campbell (16) combined for 77 assists. Defensively, Elizabeth Hurst led the Red and Blue with 22 digs. Black chipped in with 16.
Penn closes out its home slate next weekend, hosting Brown Friday at 7 p.m. and Yale Saturday at 4 p.m.