Volleyball Hits the Road for the Final Time in 2011

PHILADELPHIA - Penn volleyball plays its final two road matches of the 2011 season this weekend, facing Yale, who is looking to maintain its one game lead in the Ivy League, on Friday night at 6 p.m., then concluding the weekend at Brown with a 5 p.m. match on Saturday. Live stats for the Yale match can be found here, while you can follow the action Saturday from Providence here. Both Yale and Brown offer streamingvideo ofeach match with a one-time subscription fee.

Last Time Out
The Quakers began the opening leg of a four-match roadtrip with visits to Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend. Despite 11 kills apiece from Kristen Etterbeek, Amanda Pacheco and Emma White, Penn fell 3-1 (20-25, 24-26, 25-22, 20-25) on Friday versus the Crimson. One night later, the team rebounded to hand Dartmouth only its second home loss of the season, a thrilling 3-2 (25-22, 25-23, 16-25, 20-25, 15-12) victory, wherein the Red and Blue played as solid a set as they have all season, needing every single one of the 12 kills the team had to break open a set that was tied on ten occasions, en route to the win in the fifth.

Penn Versus

Penn leads the all-time series with Yale by a count of 33-21. The Bulldogs pulled a game closer last month at The Palestra with a three-set win over the Quakers (21-25, 17-25, 19-25). White had 12 kills for the Red and Blue while Pacheco added 10 along with a hitting percentage of .304.

The Quakers' series with Brown has been a little more one-sided, with Penn enjoying a 41-15 edge. The Quakers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead over the Bears last month, winning the first set 25-21 and the second by a score of 25-23. But Brown came out hot after the break, stringing together three straight wins by the narrowest of margins, 25-23, 25-23 and 15-13 for a shocking 3-2 victory. Pacheco led the Quakers with 18 kills in the match.

Scouting the Bulldogs
At 9-1 in the Ivies and 15-5 overall, Yale currently finds itself in the driver's seat for an automatic NCAA bid if they can hold on to a one-game lead over Princeton and a two-game edge on Columbia. The Bulldogs have simply overwhelmed their opposition at times this season, with a 10-1 record in three-set matches as proof. Hitting an Ivy League-best .244 as a team, Yale's offense is led by freshman Mollie Rogers, who is averaging 3.12 kills per set. In all, four players contribute over two kills per set while Kendall Polan, a threat to pass or attack, leads the conference with 10.61 assists per set. At 18.17 digs per set as a team, Yale ranks 11th in the nation and third in the Ivies behind Cornell and Penn.

Scouting the Bears
On the opposite end of the Ivy table is Brown. The Bears enter the weekend at 2-8 in the league, tied with Cornell for last place. A very young squad, the team's top three attackers are either freshmen or sophomores. Maddie Lord ranks fifth in the Ivy League at 3.43 kills per set and is one of the top candidates for Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Alexandra Rieckhoff handles the setting chores for the Bears. At 8.01 assists per set, she ranks sixth in the conference. Statistically speaking, Brown struggles on defense. Allowing opponents to hit .211 against them on the season, Brown ranks last in the conference in that category as well as in blocks and digs per set. Averaging 5.11 digs per set, senior Annika Gliottone will try to deny the Penn attackers.

Not to Sound Like a Broken Record
Dani Shepherd added 52 digs to her season total last weekend, and with 501 on the season, now sits in fourth place in Penn's single-season digs records. With four matches remaining in the season, Shepherd will have an opportunity to make a run at first place. Penn's top five digs records are as follows:

607 ... Madison Wojciechowski (2009)
566 ... Madison Wojciechowski (2010)
511 ... Madison Wojciechowski (2008)
501 ... Dani Shepherd (2011)
457 ... Madison Wojciechowski (2007)

Ranked third nationally in digs per set at 6.34, Shepherd trails only Kasey Elswick of UT-Martin (6.74) and Kim Maroon of Villanova (6.85), and forms the backbone of a defense that is seventh in the nation in digs at 18.38 per set.

Model of Consistency
Emma White has been an important piece of the Penn offense all season but has taken her game to another level as of late. The freshman outside hitter from Manhattan Beach, Calif. has had at least 10 kills in eight of the last nine matches and twice reached a career high with 14 in a match. White leads the Quakers with seven double-doubles on the season, one more than fellow OH Kristen Etterbeek.

Etterbeek at Her Best
With 3.10 kills per set in Ivy League matches, Kristen Etterbeek has been the most dangerous Penn attacker against the rest of the Ancient Eight. Only four other players in the conference have more than her 130 kills through ten league matchups.

Block Party
Susan Stuecheli has racked up 18 solo blocks to go along with 62 block assists in 80 sets played this season for an even 1.00 average. That ranking puts her at fifth in the Ivy League in the category, but it is worthwhile noting that the four players ahead of her have a much smaller sample size, with no one playing in more than 50 sets on the season.