PRINCETON, N.J. - The Penn volleyball team dropped its Ivy League opener Saturday to the Princeton Tigers in five hard-fought games (26-30, 33-31, 30-16, 34-36, 15-11). Freshman Julia Swanson led the Quakers with 27 kills and the team continued to display a strong net defense, but it wasn't enough to slow down the Tigers.
Swanson got off to a fast start in the first game, registering seven kills as Penn jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the match. Her .700 hitting percentage included no errors, a significant step for the freshman hitter. As had been the case in many of the Quakers' early-season triumphs, the team outblocked its opponent, recording four blocks to the Tigers' one. Junior Kathryn Turner helped on two Quaker rejections, while senior Anna Shlimak had a block assist to go along with three kills.
It appeared that Penn was well on its way to a 2-0 lead in the second game after running out to an early 7-1 lead, but Princeton fought back and gained momentum away from the Quakers. Despite a .315 hitting percentage that included seven more kills from Swanson and four from Shlimak, Penn saw its lead diminish and the Tigers eventually prevail, 33-31. Senior Laura Black and sophomore Natalie Drucker also pounded home four kills in the losing effort.
The third game was all Tigers, as Swanson and Black were the only Quakers to register more than a single kill, with five and three respectively. Princeton displayed an impressive .486 hitting percentage in the game, compared to Penn's .139.
With their backs against the wall, the Quakers showed no signs of giving up in the fourth game, as the score remained tight throughout. After Penn had held the lead for much of the contest, Princeton took a late 30-29 lead, but the Quakers battled back and eventually pulled out a 36-34 victory. Laura Black, who had five kills in the game, scored a key point to tie the score at 33 late. Natalie Drucker lead the team with six kills in the game and also added two block assists as Penn rejected five Princeton shots.
Despite the Red and Blue's comeback attempt, Princeton controlled the fifth game. The Quakers managed to pull to within one at 8-7 after a 3-1 scoring run, but the Tigers refused to break and won, 15-11. Swanson again keyed the Penn attack, slamming in four kills. She finished the day with a .286 hitting percentage, a strong sign for the freshman working on limiting her errors.
The Quakers return to action Friday, October 5 when they host Cornell at the Palestra. Game time is set for 7 p.m.