PHILADELPHIA – It ended in favor of the Red and Blue, as the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team went the distance for the first time this season. Penn outlasted Brown in a thrilling five set battle Saturday night at The Palestra, 3-2 (26-24, 25-22, 24-26, 16-25, 15-11). Three Quakers reached double-digit kills while four saw double-digit digs. Junior captain Alexis Genske led the offensive efforts with 14 kills and also contributed 20 digs. Senior Kendall Turner finished the night hitting .435 with 12 kills in 23 attempts and two errors, while juniorMichellie McDonald-O’Brien tallied 11 kills in 24 attempts with just one error for a .417 hitting percentage. Freshman Emmy Friedler set a personal best and season high of 34 digs.
Brown pulled out to an early 7-3 lead in set one, but after three Bear errors and an ace by freshman Aimee Stephenson, the Quakers were in business. The Red and Blue kept Brown on its toes until they were finally at set point after a kill by senior captain Trina Ohms made it 24-23. The Bears used their second timeout. A ball handling error by Penn evened the score but freshman Kendall Covington put the Quakers back into position for the win. An attack error by Brown sealed the victory and the Red and Blue took set one, 26-24.
After taking set one, Penn came to life, taking control of the second set. A 16-6 lead proved to be crucial in the Quakers set-two victory. The Bears made a valiant comeback, pressuring the Red and Blue after a kill by Emma Thygesen to close the gap to 24-22, but a block by Genske and McDonald-O’Brien put Penn ahead two sets to none.
But Brown wasn’t ready to give up and jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the third set. A kill by McDonald-O’Brien sent senior captain Meghan Connolly behind the line, where she stayed for nine serves. Connolly recorded three aces to help the team to a 13-12 lead. The Quakers extended their lead, winning five of the next six points, for the 18-13 advantage. However, the Bears pushed the Red and Blue to their limits and a block by Payton Smith tied the score at 24-24. Two kills later and Brown took its first set of the evening, 26-24.
Despite an early 4-3 lead, Penn fell behind 19-9. A kill by Turner stopped the Bears’ momentum, but the damage was done and the Quakers dropped set four, 25-16.
McDonald-O’Brien recorded a kill to start the fifth set, giving the Red and Blue the spark they needed. Brown took a 5-3 lead, but Penn turned things around and reached eight first after a kill by Genske. A Bear error, kill by McDonald-O’Brien and an ace by freshman Michelle Pereira put the Quakers ahead 11-7. The four point lead was all the Red and Blue needed, as Turner and Caldwell teamed up for a block to end the match at 15-11.
Penn completed its nine-match home stand tonight and take its first Ivy road trip of the season, when they travel to Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend.
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