Volleyball Drops a Pair of Five-Setters

Penn-Toledo Box Score (pdf)

Penn-Alabama Box Score (pdf)

TOLEDO, OH - While the team's progress this weekend was not going to be measured in its final record, today's 0-2 mark does sting a little. Penn dropped a pair of matches in the Rocket Classic versus the host, Toledo, as well as Alabama, despite holding 2-1 leads in both contests. Toledo rallied for a 15-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-15, 16-14 win while Alabama came on strong at the end to claim a 25-16, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-3 victory. Penn falls to 2-4 on the season.

Starting early with a 10 a.m. match versus Toledo, the Quakers fired out of the gate, dispatching of the Rockets quickly in the first two sets. Amanda Pacheco and Susan Stuecheli were instrumental in the opener as each hammered four kills and hit .667. Stuecheli took over at the end as she and Lauren Martin combined for a block to put Penn up 23-15 before ending the set with back-to-back kills for the 25-15 final margin.

The good vibes continued into the second set as junior co-captain Sarah Cobbinah got her most action of the season and responded with three kills. The defense of the Quakers was the biggest reason for yet another easy set victory as Toledo hit -.057 in the set, thanks in part to nine digs from Dani Shepherd and another five from Emma White.

The Rockets came out fast after the break and were up 17-10 before the Quakers mounted a comeback behind the serve of Shepherd. An ace pulled the Red and Blue to within 17-14 and the lead would eventually close to one but the momentum wouldn't last in a 25-22 Toledo win. The fourth set turned the tide even more in Toledo's favor as they hit .517 as a team and scored the final four points of the set, winning 25-15. Pacheco was one of the few bright spots in the set as she notched five kills on the attack.

The fifth and final set was a battle throughout as the teams were tied on 10 occasions. A kill from Pacheco gave Penn a match point at 14-13 but she was denied on the next point on a block from Toledo's Brooke Frazer. Back-to-back kills from Toledo sealed the match at 16-14.

In the evening session, Alabama zoomed out to a first set triumph with a hitting percentage of .438, pulling away in the latter stages to win 25-16. In a sign of things to come, Martin threw down six kills in the set. The Quakers knotted the affair at a set apiece with a 25-23 come-from-behind victory in the second set. After trailing 12-5 early on, Penn would take the lead at 16-15 on a spike from Kristen Etterbeek and win on another Martin kill, who again had six in the set.

In the third, Penn swung a 12-9 deficit into a 15-12 advantage thanks to some sloppy play from the Crimson Tide. Alabama would regroup after a timeout and challenge the Red and Blue, but the Quakers never relinquished the lead and pulled away, 25-19.

Up two sets to one, Penn jumped out to a 5-0 lead quickly in the fourth set and looked to be on its way to an upset victory. That's when Alabama's attack got revved up. Trailing 9-2, the Crimson Tide reeled off eight straight points to take the lead, and scored another five straight after the score was tied at 16-16 to keep the Quakers at bay.

The fifth set was over practically before it began. Alabama scored the first nine points in the set and it was a kill from Kayla Fitterer, who had six kills in the last set alone, that ended it. Despite the loss, there were a number of impressive performances in the match from the Red and Blue. The most historic one was turned in byDani Shepherd, who set the Penn individual match record with 41 digs. Martin, who was named to the All-Tournament team,had a team-high 22 kills while Kristin Schoonover led with 26 assists.

Penn returns home next weekend to host the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational. A tripleheader on Friday begins at 12 p.m. with Penn taking part in the nightcap at 7 p.m., while the tournament concludes on Saturday with another tripleheader beginning at 10 a.m. The Quakers will be challenged by Rhode Island, UMBC and William & Mary in the two-day event.

Download: Penn-Alabama Box.pdf