Volleyball Goes West For Challenging Weekend

PHILADELPHIA - The Penn volleyball team makes a trek out west to California this weekend to play four matches in two days, highlighted by a bout with 13th ranked UCLA Friday evening.

In what will be a homecoming for a third of the Quakers' traveling roster of 15, the trip to California also serves as a good chance for Penn to measure themselves against quality competition. The Red and Blue open the trip with a match against tournament host Cal State Fullerton at 2 p.m. pacific time and then travel 20 miles south for a battle with No. 12 UCLA at UC Irvine beginning at 8 p.m. On Saturday Penn plays two more matches, taking on Liberty University at 10 a.m. pacific and then battling BIG EAST foe West Virginia at 5:30 p.m.

Last Time Out
The Quakers' results at the Terrapin Invitational were a mixed bag as they went 1-2 but saw the team's quality of play rise as the weekend wore on. In the first match of the weekend, Penn struggled with a much taller Maryland squad, ultimately losing in straight sets, 16-25, 19-25, 15-25. On Saturday morning the Red and Blue nearly took a set from Tulane, but still fell in three, 13-25, 24-26, 16-25. Penn put it all together in its final match of the tournament, dispatching of Fairfield in three sets by identical 25-17 scores. The Quakers hit an impressive .404, recorded eight total blocks and had 60 digs against the Stags, who only took the lead four times in the entire match.

Scouting The Titans
The host squad, Cal State Fullerton enters the weekend with a 6-3 overall record. The Titans have won five of their last six, the only blemish a five-set loss to Pepperdine. Fullerton features a trio of impressive attackers in senior Erin Saddler, sophomore Kayla Neto and junior Torrie Brown. Saddler leads the team with 4.56 kills per set while Neto is second at 3.19, but is hitting at a team-high .393 clip. Brown is third, averaging 3.16 kills per set. Defensively, Neto is tied for the team lead with junior Leah Maurer averaging .69 blocks per set. Senior Cami Croteau is the last line of defense, averaging 4.75 digs pet set.

Scouting the Bruins
No. 13 UCLA is 8-1 on the season, its only loss coming at the hands of then fifth-ranked Hawaii in Honolulu. The Bruins are a talented squad having only dropped one set in their last four matches. The offense features two players averaging over three kills per set in senior Dicey McGraw (3.50) and sophomore Rachael Kidder (3.04). Also in the mix is junior middle blocker Katie Camp, who only averages 1.86 kills per set but hits a team-best .436 and leads UCLA with 1.36 blocks per set. Junior Sara Sage also makes her presence felt at the net with .86 blocks per set. Junior libero Lainey Gera leads the team in digs, averaging 4.38 per set.

Scouting The Flames
Liberty comes into the weekend, with wins in three of its last four matches and a 6-3 record overall. Most recently the Flames beat Elon in three tough sets. Senior Karyl Bacon is the focal point of the offense, hitting .280 and averaging a team-best 4.27 kills per set. First year Lillie Happel is second at 2.61, though she is hitting just .163. The duo of redshirt freshman Kendle Rollins and sophomore Loren Thomas are the first line of defense for the Flames, averaging .82 and .76 blocks per set respectively. Junior Kelly Haseman is the backbone of the defense, digging 4.94 balls per set.

Scouting The Mountaineers
At 7-3, West Virginia has the most game experience of any squad Penn has faced. However, the Mountaineers might not be ready for a five-set battle, as each of the team's last nine matches ended in three sets. West Virginia has a balanced offense with five players averaging at least 2.17 kills per set. Senior Lauren Evans leads everyone at 2.83 and also is hitting at a .365 clip. Junior Michelle Kopecky (2.77) and Serinna Russo (2.65) are close behind her. Evans leads the defense as well with .76 blocks per set, while fellow classmate Abby Norman adds .61 blocks per set. The Mountaineers also have two players who average over four digs per set, in senior libero Bonnie West (4.45) and Russo (4.32).

Following the Quakers
Fans of the Red and Blue will be able to follow Penn's match against UCLA on live stats by clicking here. The Quakers' other matches this weekend will not have live stats, though a box score and quick recap will be posted on Penn Athletics immediatelly following the conclusion of each contest, with a full recap to follow.

200 Wins And Counting
With the Quakers win against Fairfield on Saturday, head coach Kerry Carr earned her 200th career victory at Penn. She is the second coach in school history to reach that milestone and just the sixth in Ivy League history. Carr is also poised to break the program mark for career victories, only trailing Joe Sagula's 203 wins. In the midst of her 13th season at the helm of the Red and Blue, Carr now has a career record of 200-130.

All-Tourney
Sophomore Amanda Pacheco was the lone Quaker named to the Terrapin Invitational All-Tournament team over the weekend. The middle blocker hit a team-high .375 and averaged 2.33 kills per set in three matches.

National Ranking
Senior Madison Wojciechowski made an appearance in the first batch of national rankings which came out this week. The libero is currently ranked sixth in the nation, averaging 5.7 digs per set. As a team, the Quakers' mark of 17.76 digs per set is good for 12th nationally.

We're Going Streaking
Wojciechowski had at least ten digs in each match over the weekend, extending her streak of consecutive matches with at least ten digs to 15 matches.

Hot Hitter
Pacheco has been the Quakers' hottest hitter thus far, firing at a team-high .402 clip. The number is also good for 39th in the country. The sophomore has hit over .400 in four of six matches this season while averaging 2.52 kills per set.

Putting It All Together
On Saturday against Fairfield, Penn stopped it's three-game losing streak with an offensive outburst. The Quakers .404 as four different players hit over .400, highlighted by Julia Swanson's .519 hitting percentage. It was the best hitting performance by the Quakers since they hit .465 on Oct. 6, 2007 against Columbia.

Block Party
Freshman Susan Stuecheli recorded seven total blocks in Penn's three-set loss to Tulane on Saturday morning. The middle blocker now has two matches with at least seven total blocks this season, the most by a Quaker in one season since Natalie Drucker had two such matches in 2007.

1,000 Kill Club
Senior Julia Swanson needs just 26 kills to become the fifth in program history to reach 1,000 career kills. Swanson is currently in 6th on the school's all-time list with 974 kills and currently leads the team with 62 kills this season.

Making The Extra Pass
Senior Megan Tryon is poised to surpass 3,000 assists this weekend. The senior setter has 2,922 career assists and with 78 more will become just the fifth player in program history to reach the 3,000 assist plateau.