Volleyball Claims Season-Opening 3-1 Win

Villanova-La Salle Box Score (pdf)

Penn-Temple Box Score (pdf)

- There might eventually be growing pains with a team that features only one senior, but on the opening night of the 2011 volleyball season, the Penn Quakers looked like seasoned veterans in a 25-16, 25-16, 22-25, 25-16 win over Temple, the first of three cross-town games on the docket for Penn this weekend.

Penn stormed out of the gates withthe first five points of the opening set behind the strong serve of Kristen Etterbeek, who kept the Owls unstable and unable to find a rhythm on her return, forcing a quickTemple timeout to stop the bleeding.The Owlsrebounded quickly and workedtheir way back into the match but the tide turned yet again on the serve of Dani Shepherd, who delivered the only ace of the set and required another burned time-out from Temple with the score 18-11. Fittingly, it was a kill from Lauren Martin that ended things ina first set that Penn led wire-to-wire. Martin smoked seven kills with a .538 hitting percentage in the first set alone to set the tone for the match.

The Red and Blue jumped out to an early advantage in the second set at 9-3 once again behind the serve of Shepherd. Martin and Amanda Pacheco threw down a pair of kills in the four-point rally while Shepherd got her second ace of the match on a low ball that clipped the net and fell short of the waiting Temple defender. The Owls rallied to within two points at 17-15 in the middle of the set but could get no closer as a service error on the ensuing point opened the door for a Quaker run that saw them tally eight of the final nine points of the set in another 25-16 decision.

Temple showed its resiliency coming out after the break, turning an 11-11 deadlock intoa 22-16 lead, making Head Coach Kerry Carr use a second timeout during the stretch. Perhaps sensing the momentum swinging away from them, the Quakers buckled down and immediately closed to within two at 22-20, however an assistedblock from Temple ended the threat as the Owls stayed alive with the 25-22 victory.

Penn came out refocused in the fourth set with an extended push to close out the Owls. A balanced attack on the front line saw six different players deliver a kill during the set as the Quakers hit .318 as a team in the fourth and final set. As Penn found its stride, Temple came unglued, committing six service errors to aid the Quakers' cause.

"I am so pleased with my team's effort tonight," said Coach Carr. "Witha young team it would have been easyfor them tohangtheir heads in the fourth set and let Temple tie it up, but we came out with great energy and put them away."

"We learned some things about this team tonight but there is a long way to go. We'll continue to try some different combinations tomorrow and try to find our most consistent line-up."

Lauren Martin had a big first game of her junior season with 16 kills as well as five block assists. Amanda Pacheco also hit double-digits in kills with 10 while hitting an astounding .556. Sophomore Kristin Schoonover and freshman Meghan Connolly split setting duties in the match. Schoonover ended with 23 assists while Connolly handed out 17. Libero Dani Shepherd and Kristen Etterbeekwere busy on the defensive side of things with 21 and 20 digs, respectively,to repeatedly keep points alive for the Red and Blue.

The Big 5 Tournament concludes tomorrow with four games beginning at 10 a.m.in The Palestra. Penn takes the court at 4 p.m. to face La Salle, who fell 3-0 to Villanova tonight. The tournament wraps up with the Quakers taking on the Wildcats of Villanova at 7 p.m.

Download: Villanova-La Salle.pdf