WASHINGTON, DC - The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team won the first two sets against the University of Maryland on Saturday afternoon but were unable to close the door, as the Terrapins rallied to earn a 3-2 victory in the Quakers' first match of the 2015 season.
Offensively, seniors Alexis Genske, Alex Caldwell (11) and Jasmine DeSilva (13) all contributed double-digit kill totals with Genske notching a team-high 18. Fellow senior Ronnie Bither served as the catalyst for her classmates, dishing out a career-high 52 assists. Bither also chipped in with 16 digs.
Sophomore Michelle Pereira was a force on the defensive side of the ball, leading the Quakers with 21 digs.
Maryland also put together a versatile attack with four players reaching double-digit kills. Hailey Murray, Emily Fraik, Liz Twilley and Adreene Elliott all eclipsed the 10-kill mark. As a team, the Terrapins recorded 65 kills and registered a .229 hitting percentage.
Maryland, already playing in its fifth match of the season, jumped out to an early 9-4 edge, with Genske and DeSilva providing the only offense for Penn. However, the Quakers hung around for much of the first set, thanks mostly to the senior duo, and climbed out of 17-13, 19-16 and 22-20 deficits to finally knot the score at 22. From there, freshman Courtney Quinn found the perfect spot to register her first career kill and give Penn a 23-22 lead. Caldwell followed with a kill of her own, and after a kill by Maryland’s Emily Fraik made it 24-23 the Quakers took the opening set on a Terrapins’ attack error.
Penn used the momentum from the opening set to jump out to an early 4-0 lead on the Terrapins in the second set. Genske and Caldwell were once again in on the action, each posting a kill to begin the stanza. Maryland, however, went on a run of its own to tie the game at seven. The Quakers responded by rattling off 18 of the next 25 points and grabbing the second set, 25-15. Senior Michellie McDonald-O’Brien was excellent during the stretch, tallying five kills -- including three in a row -- to give Penn a 21-13 lead.
The third set supplied some of the most thrilling action of the match with each team staving off set points before Maryland was able to stay alive with a 30-28 win. With the Terrapins leading 23-22, Quinn came up clutch once again – putting the finishing touches on a frantic rally to even the score. The Quakers saved three set points, but Maryland didn’t blink and extended the match to a fourth set.
Maryland led almost from start to finish, using early 8-3 and 17-8 leads to fuel a 25-18 triumph. Capitalizing on a 0.023 hitting percentage from the Quakers and a combined 10 kills from Murray, Fraik and Twilley, the Terrapins forced a fifth and final set.
Playing toe-to-toe all match long, the Quakers and Terrapins exchanged each of the first eight points of the final game. Tied at four points apiece, Maryland compiled the finishing run of the afternoon, ending the set on an 11-5 run. Twilley racked up a trio of kills in the final sequence, including one to give her squad a 12-8 lead. DeSilva also had three kills in the final stanza.