PHILADELPHIA After beginning the 2008 season with a pair of matches in The Palestra, Penn volleyball heads south to Miami for three matches this weekend as part of the Florida International Invitational. On Friday, the Quakers will play Oral Roberts at 5 p.m. Saturday features a pair of contests at 1 p.m., Penn plays host FIU, and at 5 p.m. the Red and Blue take on Central Florida.
The 2008 season began with a split of a doubleheader against Fairfield and Bowling Green. The Quakers defeated the Stags, 3-0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-23) to start the season off on the right note. Julia Swanson had 15 of Penn’s 38 kills in the match, and Megan Tryon (30 assists) accounted for nearly all of Penn’s setups from the setter spot.
Against the Falcons, Penn found itself in a 2-0 hole after two sets. The Quakers did not go quietly, however, rallying back to tie the match at 2-2 with inspired play in the middle. While the fifth set did not go the Red and Blue’s way, the attempted comeback did show that Penn may have a little more depth than previously expected as four players finished with double-digits in kills. Swanson again led the way with 11 while Anne Magnuson, Elizabeth Semmens and Virginia Senf each added ten. Penn held a lead midway through the fifth set, but could not hold off the Falcons, who eventually pulled out a 3-2 (25-18, 27-25, 28-26, 25-22, 15-8) win.
This Friday’s opponent, Oral Roberts, enters the weekend with a 5-2 record with one of the losses coming at the hands of No. 2 Nebraska in Lincoln. Of the Golden Eagles’ five wins, four have come in straight-sets. Senior rightside hitter Jackie Oliveira leads the way for the Eagles, as she has accumulated 72 kills over 24 sets played. The Brazil native is a returning first-team All-Summit League player who led the league in kills in 2007. Her dig total of 53 is second on the team behind libero Carol Garbato.
Saturday’s pair of Sunshine State opponents enter with a combined 10-5 record. The FIU Golden Panthers are off to a 6-1 start the best in school history. This will be the first time the Quakers and Panthers meet. Yarimar Rosa, a Puerto Rico native, is the biggest threat in the Panthers’ lineup. The two-time AVCA All-America has extensive international experience and leads the team with 132 kills, an average of 5.5 a set. She also leads the team with 78 digs.
UCF is an even 4-4 in 2008, but is coming off an impressive sweep of Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday. Janine Williams is the pacesetter for the Knights as she has attacked her way to 117 kills, averaging 3.66 a set. The Knights are a battle-tested team, as half of their eight matches have gone the distance with three of the four resulting in UCF victories.
All matches at the FIU Invitational will feature Live Stats that can be viewed here. In addition, live webcasting is available for a fee by clicking here.