WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the second match of the season-opening D.C. Classic in Washington D.C., the Penn volleyball team dropped a 3-2 decision to George Mason on Saturday night at Burr Gymnasium. It was the second consecutive five-set defeat for the Quakers as they fell to Maryland earlier in the day.
“It is never ideal to begin the season on the losing side of games but I thought overall we played well against two tough opponents,” said Penn Head Coach Kerry Carr. “As with any team, it is always a process to figure out how to win games. I am extremely excited for the potential of this team and I look forward to two more games tomorrow.”
Seniors Alexis Genske and Michellie McDonald-O’Brien lifted the Quakers offensively, combining for 27 kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Sophomore Haley Molnar and freshman Courtney Quinn each posted four kills of their own. Senior Ronnie Bither also provided a spark for Penn with 37 assists and nine digs.
For George Mason, it was Morghan Martin leading the way with 17 kills and a .306 hitting clip. Caitlyn Hipsher controlled the tempo for the Patriots, tallying 42 assists and chipping in nine digs.
The Quakers will be back in action for two more matches tomorrow. Penn will take on Western Carolina at 10 a.m. and Howard at 5 p.m.
The Quakers didn’t show much fatigue from their five-set match against Maryland, leaping out to a 9-3 edge in the first set. A pair of kills from sophomore Kendall Covington, as well as a kill each from senior Alex Caldwell and McDonald-O’Brien fueled the early lead. The Patriots slowly battled back and a kill from Hipsher lifted the Patriots to their first lead of the match at 13-12. George Mason finished the set on a 12-4 run to earn the opening-game win, 25-17.
The Quakers bursted out to another lead in the second set but this time were able to sustain it with a 25-17 triumph. Covington hammered home a pair of kills, the first providing Penn a 10-5 lead and the other on set point. Genske posted four kills and no errors in the second set, while Bither dished out 11 assists.
Penn put forward its lowest scoring output of the day in the third set, falling 25-12. Following an early 8-4 lead by the Quakers, George Mason rattled off a 21-4 stretch to run away with the third game and take a 2-1 edge. The Patriots had five different players register at least one kill and as a team posted a .364 hitting percentage.
As they did all afternoon long, the Quakers would not go away quietly in the fourth set. Back-to-back kills from Genske pushed the Quakers out front, 4-2. Penn extended that lead to 9-3 after sophomore Michelle Pereira knocked a service ace, while a Quinn kill would put Penn ahead 19-12. Genske capped off the set with a service ace of her own to clinch a 25-16 win.
Genske and Covington supplied Penn the early 3-0 lead in the final set with Genske recording a kill and a service ace. Following back and forth action, in which neither team could gain much separation, Pereira smacked her second service ace of the day to give Penn a 13-10 lead. George Mason answered with a 5-0 run to end the match. Morgan and Lola Owokoniran each posted a pair of kills in the final flurry for the Patriots.