Volleyball Finishes Big Five Classic With Split

Penn 3, La Salle 1 Box Score

Villanova 3, Penn 2 Box Score

PHILADELPHIA -In 2009, the Big Five Classic came down to a five-set match between Penn and Villanova. One year later, the same held true for the 2010 edition of the tournament, a fifth set between the Quakers and Wildcats deciding who would be champion.

Unfortunately for the Quakers, 2010 was not déjà vu completely, as 'Nova held off a furious Penn charge in the deciding set for a 3-2 (22-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25021, 15-12) win.

In that fifth set, 'Nova took advantage of five errors by Penn to take a 12-6 lead. However, Megan Tryon took advantage of a lapse in 'Nova's defense to surprise the Wildcats with a kill instead of a set, spurring a 6-0 Penn rally. Freshman Dani Shepherd was the server for the next five points, forcing Villanova to move its defense around and opening up room for three Julia Swanson kills and two 'Nova attack errors.

After the 6-0 run, Villanova called a timeout to calm things down, a move which paid off as the 'Cats came up with three points in a row to win the match. A service ace from Alyssa Anderson gave Villanova match point, and a kill from Morgan Petrovich was the finisher, despite a brilliant fingertip dig from Madison Wojciechowski off the serve.

Wojchiechowski finished with a match-high 33 digs as Penn came up with 103 in the match. Madison's 33 digs are tied for seventh-most in a match all-time by a Penn player, giving her sole or joint possession of five of Penn's seven-best games by a defensive specialist.

Amanda Pacheco was the big swinger for Penn, connecting on 15 kills to just two errors on 29 attempts (.448). Julia Swanson (12 kills) and Lauren Martin (10 kills) were also big factors on the offense.

On defense, Penn had four solo blocks and nine shared blocks. The leader in the middle was freshman Susan Stuecheli, who had eight block assists to go with a solo stuff. Pacheco was also active at the net on defense, coming up with the other three solo blocks and an assist. Pacheco's kills and solo blocks were both career highs.

The Quakers used a host of players to defeat La Salle in the opener, 3-1 (17-25, 25-14, 25-12, 25-21). In total, 17 different players played in at least one set and 10 of those players had at least one kill. Julia Swanson and Amanda Pacheco led the offense with nine kills apiece, followed by Sarah Cobbinah who pitched in seven. Kristen Etterbeck and Lauren Martin each had five kills, with Susan Steucheli adding four. Altogether, 34 of Penn's 46 kills came off swings from underclassmen.

Megan Tryon continued to prove her ability to impact a match in many ways with a 31-assist, five-ace, nine-dig performance against the Explorers. Her nine digs were part of a 64-dig output by the Quakers, led by Dani Shepherd's 13 and Madison Wojciechowski's 11.

The Quakers were forced to battle against La Salle, coming back from a first-set loss to win three in a row. The clinching set saw Pen fall behind early, 4-1, after a series of miscues on the receiving end. A Swanson kill tied the set at 6-6, and started a three-point swing to give the Quakers an 8-6 lead they would not relinquish. The Explorers were back within one at 11-10, but a service error from Kelly Scanlon jumpstarted a five-point run by the Red and Blue to give Penn a 16-10 lead. La Salle mounted one last charge to get within two at 21-19, but a kill from Pacheco and two in a row from Cobbinah provided more than enough cushion for the Quakers, who clinched the match after a service error by La Salle.