Volleyball Defeats Harvard, 3-2

Penn 3, Harvard 2 Box Score

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. – Penn needed extra volleyball on Friday night to keep its Ivy League title hopes alive, but the extended fifth set went the Quakers’ way, 19-17, and Penn took a 3-2 decision from Harvard in Cambridge.

Penn improves to 7-3 in the Ivy League and is 11-11 overall in 2008. The win keeps the Quakers mathematically alive in the Ancient Eight title race. The Red and Blue are in third place behind Yale and Princeton with four matches left in the season. Penn has its back to the wall, though, needing to win all four remaining matches and receive some help to stake its claim to the title.

First things first, however, and Penn took care of business in Beantown. It may have taken a little longer than the last time the two teams met where Penn swept the Crimson, 3-0, in The Palestra, but the end result is all that matters at this time of year.

Penn twice rallied from a set down to tie the match, forcing a fifth and deciding set. The final frame was as tight as the rest of the match, with neither side having a lead larger than three points – a lead Penn held at 9-6 after a pair of attack errors from the Crimson. Undisciplined play cost Harvard in the fifth set, as the Crimson committed eight errors in the set – including two attack errors from outside hitter Kathryn McKinley with the match tied 17-17 to clinch the match for Penn. The final play was not all on McKinley as Penn’s Kathryn Turner and Elizabeth Semmens combined for a block on the play snuffing out a possible tying point.

Blocks were the norm for Turner on the night, as she assisted on ten blocks – equaling her career high from 2005, and tying for fourth-best in a match all-time by a Quaker. Kelly Szcerba picked up 12 block assists twice to set the record. On the night, Penn had 15 total blocks. Turner now has 267 block assists for her career, two behind Stephanie Bell for third-best in a career by a Penn player.

Julia Swanson led all players with 20 kills, hitting at a .250 percentage. As a team, Penn hit at a .254 clip. Turner was efficient on offense as well, hitting .318 with nine kills and only two errors. Semmens added 12 kills and Anne Magnuson finished with 10. Ashley Hawkins made the most of her 14 attacks, scoring seven kills to only one error for a .429 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Madison Wojciechowski followed up her school record-setting performance last weekend with 27 digs, giving her 423 for the season – 34 behind her single-season record she set last year.

For the Crimson, McKinley led the way with 19 kills. Anne Ingersoll had 14 kills and Alissa Flesher added 12. Setter Lily Durwood finished with a match-high 59 assists and libero Christine Wu picked up 32 digs.

The Quakers are back in action Saturday at Dartmouth at 4 p.m.