PHILADELPHIA - Following a three-week homestand, the Penn volleyball team embarks on its first Ivy road trip of the season, taking on Cornell Friday at 7 p.m. before a Saturday evening battle with Columbia at 7 p.m.
The Quakers have won four straight and improved to 8-9 overall while sporting a 4-1 record in the Ivy League, second to Princeton's 5-0 mark. Cornell is 4-12 this season with half of the team's victories coming in the Ancient Eight. Columbia has been up and down in league play, going 3-3 while playing five of those six on the road. Conversely, the team is 8-0 when they play at home and 11-5 overall.
Last Time Out
The Red and Blue provided a glimpse of what the team is capable of, going five sets to earn a tough victory over Dartmouth and then dispatching of Harvard in three dominating sets. Penn dropped the first against the Big Green, 25-21, but only allowed 30 points in taking the next two. In the fourth the Quakers stumbled once again, 25-22, but finished the match with an authoritative 15-8 win. Penn carried its momentum into Saturday, opening with leads of 19-5 and 13-0 in sets one and two before winning them 25-9 and 25-12. Harvard tried to put up a fight in the final set, getting within four at 21-17, but the Red and Blue shut the door with the 25-20 win.
The Quakers have struggled against Cornell over the years, winning just twice in their last eight trips up to Ithaca. Last year Penn was victorious against the Big Red, but only after fighting back from a 0-2 deficit to capture the final three sets 25-23, 25-21 and 15-12. In that match, Julia Swanson and Lauren Martin combined for 32 kills in helping the Red and Blue avoid the upset.
Penn didn't drop a set to the Lions last year, as Columbia struggled to a 3-11 league record. In the Quakers two victories, they showcased a powerful offense, averaging over 17 kills and 18 digs per set. Overall the Red and Blue own a nine-match winning streak against the Lions dating back to 2005.
Scouting the Big Red
Cornell went 1-1 in the Ivy League last weekend with a 3-0 loss to Yale and a 3-1 victory over Brown. The Big Red don't have an overpowering offense, averaging just 11.55 kills per set, but are relatively balanced with four players averaging between 2.7-1.7 kills per set. Junior Kelly Hansen leads the team with 2.67 kills per set and is second among the regulars in hitting, at .252. Freshman Janel Forte is second, at 2.3, while sophomore Deveney Pula (1.97) and junior Madeleine Przbyl (1.71) are third and fourth respectively. Przbyl leads the team hitting at a .273 clip and also is tops on the team with 57 total blocks (.90). Freshman Rachel D'Epagnier leads the team with 1.15 blocks per set as Cornell is second in the Ivies with 2.13 blocks per set. On the back row, junior Risa Ka'awa leads the team with 4.05 digs pet set, while sophomore Taylor Nieman is second at 3.00.
Scouting the Lions
Columbia comes into the weekend with one of the most powerful defenses in the Ivy League, averaging a league-best 2.42 blocks per set, as well as 17.11 digs pet set. Leading the defensive effort at the net is freshman Savannah Fletcher, who averages an Ivy best 1.22 blocks per set. Junior Monique Roberts is second behind her with 1.14, while sophomore Heather Braunagel is third at .85. Freshman libero Katherine Keller leads the back row with 4.53 digs per set and sophomore Megan Gaughn is second at 3.28. Offensively, Graughn leads the team with 3.82 kills per set, firing at a .230 clip. Freshman Madeline Rumer is second at 2.38 while Roberts (2.20) and Braunagel (2.06) also average over two kills set.
Following the Red and Blue
Penn fans can follow all the action at Cornell via live stats (click here) or through the Big Red's webcast. Live stats will also be available for the Quakers' match versus Columiba (click here), as will video (click here).
Madison Wojciechowski is currently ranked ninth in the country averaging 5.67 digs per set. As team the Quakers are ranked 13th, tallying 17.61 digs per set. Penn is one of three Ivy teams ranked in the top 15, behind only Yale (1) and Dartmouth (7).
Amanda Pacheco leads the Ivy League in hitting at .342 while freshman Susan Stuecheli is third at .318 ... Megan Tryon leads the league averaging 10.38 assists per set ... Madison Wojciechowski leads the Ivies with 5.67 digs per set ... Stuecheli is fourth with 1.00 blocks per set ... Senior Julia Swanson is fifth in the Ancient Eight at 3.18 kills per set ... Tryon is sixth with .25 service aces per set (16).
Megan Tryon was named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week following her efforts in leading Penn two a 2-0 weekend. The senior setter dished out 53 assists with 11 digs, two blocks and six kills in a five-set win over Dartmouth and then followed it up with 35 assists, 11 digs and two kills against Harvard. It is the second straight week a Quaker has been honored by the Ivy League, following Amanda Pacheco's selection last week.
Ivy League 'D'
The Quakers have been one of the most impressive defensive teams within Ivy League play. Penn is allowing opponents to hit .145 in five matches, tops in the Ancient Eight, while Yale is second at .174. The Red and Blue have also allowed just 11 service aces in league play, by far the lowest total of any team. The Quakers are also second with 18.57 digs per set.
Against Harvard on Saturday night, Penn held the Crimson to a ridiculous -.029 hitting percentage and just 18 kills. It is the first time the Quakers have kept an opponent under 20 kills and a .000 hitting percentage since 2005, when St. Francis (N.Y.) had just 16 kills on -.043 hitting. The Crimson were also last Ivy team to hit under .000 against Penn, hitting -.015 with 31 kills back in 2002.
This season Penn is 8-2 when holding opponents to hitting .200 or less. The Quakers' lone losses came in five-set defeats at the hands of Villanova and Princeton. Conversely, the Red and Blue are 0-7 when allowing an opponent to hit over .200
The Quakers had ten total blocks in each of their matches over the weekend. On Friday, Stuecheli had seven total blocks, and followed it up with six more on Saturday against Harvard. Sophomore Lauren Martin added seven (.88) while Pacheco had six (.75) over the weekend.
Can You Dig It?
Wojciechowski recorded double-digit digs in both matches over the weekend, extending her streak of matches with at least ten digs to a school-record 26 matches. Overall she has recorded double-digit digs in 90 of 97 career matches.
Five Times the Fun
The Quakers had five different players record double-digit digs on Friday night. Wojciechowski had a team-high 25, freshman Dani Shepherd and Swanson each added 16, while Logan Johnson and Tryon had 15 and 11 respectively.
Martin and Pacheco combined to hit .409 and recorded 32 of the team's 67 kills against Dartmouth. Martin hit .410 with 19 kills as Pacheco added 13 while hitting .407.