PHILADELPHIA – The red-hot University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will hit the road for a second consecutive weekend, as the Ivy League schedule begins to hit full stride. The Quakers will start in Hanover on Friday night (7 p.m.) for a date with Dartmouth, before heading to Cambridge on Saturday (5 p.m.) to take on Harvard. Both conference matchups will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Penn (7-6, 1-0) is coming off a pair of victories last weekend – the first coming against rival Princeton on Friday night. The 3-1 triumph over the Tigers marked Penn’s first win at Princeton since 2012, and the Quakers’ first 1-0 start in league play since 2009.
Penn battled back from a 22-16 deficit in the fourth set against Princeton, evading three set points, and claiming a 26-24 clinching win. Bither knocked a service ace to tie the game at 24, and a pair of Tigers’ errors sealed the match.
The Red and Blue followed up the win over the Tigers with another one on Saturday afternoon against NJIT. The Quakers wrapped up the non-conference schedule by compiling their fourth sweep of the season against the Highlanders. Penn finished its non-Ivy slate with a 6-6 record.
The Quakers were led by a quartet of seniors over the weekend, as Alexis Genske, Ronnie Bither, Alex Caldwell and Michellie McDonald-O’Brien all made significant contributions. Genske and Bither were especially impressive in the Ivy opener -- registering a pair of double-doubles in the victory. Genske racked up her sixth such match of the season with 14 kills and 14 digs, while Bither produced 44 assists and 13 digs.
Bither currently ranks second in the Ivy League, averaging 9.35 helpers per set. She also ranks fifth in the Penn record books with 2,105 in her career.
Caldwell and McDonald-O’Brien provided tremendous efficiency in the wins over Princeton and NJIT, combining to hit .370 with 33 kills. Freshman Courtney Quinn made her Ivy-League debut on Friday night, chipping in five kills and eight digs. Quinn, along with Genske and sophomore Michelle Pereira, are the only Quakers to have seen action in all 49 sets this season.
Scouting the Big Green...
Dartmouth enters Friday night with a record of 4-6 overall and a 1-0 mark in the Ivy League. The Big Green defeated Harvard, 3-2, to open the conference season -- receiving a variety of standout performances. Reigning Ivy League Player of the Week Emily Astarita posted a team-high 23 kills, while freshman Sierra Lyle (11 kills, 11 digs) and senior Paige Caridi (13 kills, 13 digs) each notched double-doubles. Junior Stacey Benton registered 58 of Dartmouth’s 68 assists. In addition to the win over the Crimson, Dartmouth has triumphs over West Virginia, UCONN and Eastern Illinois this season.
Series History: Penn leads, 45-7
Last Season: The Quakers defeated Dartmouth in both matches last season, notching two of their five conference wins against the Big Green. Caldwell and Genske were nothing short of spectacular in the match in Hanover. Caldwell produced her second triple-double of the season with 11 kills, 21 assists, and 10 digs -- while Genske racked up 17 kills and 15 digs.
Scouting the Crimson...
The defending Ivy League co-champions sit at 4-7 this season, fresh off a 3-2 loss to Dartmouth last Friday night. The Crimson has rebounded nicely after losing five of its first six matches this fall, picking up wins over New Hampshire, UCONN and Northeastern. Junior Corrine Bain has been named Ivy League Player of the Week three times this season and currently sits second on the team in both kills (2.24) and digs (3.56) per set. Sophomore Paige Kebe has also been stellar, posting a team-high 2.48 kills per set.
Series History: Penn leads, 45-14
Last Season: Harvard swept the Quakers last season, taking five-set wins in each match. The Crimson roared back from a 2-0 deficit in Cambridge, winning the fifth set by a 15-11 margin. Caldwell finished with 24 assists and 11 digs in the loss, while Genske tallied a team-high 15 kills.