Volleyball Hosts Delaware in Tuesday's Home Opener

PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team started the 2013 campaign on the road in College Park, Md. Now it’s time to come home and set up shop at the Quakers’ home court, The Palestra, as they host Delaware Tuesday night and the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational over the weekend. Tuesday’s match with the Blue Hens starts at 7 p.m.

Video/Live Stats For Tuesday
Click here for the Penn Sports Network’s live video stream broadcast.

Click here to follow the game’s live stats via GameTracker.

Despite starting the season 0-3 after the University of Maryland Invitational, Coach Carr has a good feeling about her team. Taking two sets from LIU Brooklyn and one apiece from UMKC and Maryland, the Red and Blue are several positions deep and working through different rotations. Libero Dani Shepherd finished the weekend with 75 digs and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Five players finished the weekend with double-figure kill totals, led by Jasmine DeSilva's 41; Kristen Etterbeek had 32 and Alex Caldwell finished with 30. Caldwell also had 76 assists, 29 digs and six blocks, while Ronnie Bither finished with 67 assists.

Scouting the Blue Hens
Delaware started its 2013 season the same way Penn started, with a 0-3 record. After this past weekend’s tournament play, however, the Blue Hens sit at an even 3-3 record. Sophomore Ariel Shonk was named the Colonial Athletic Association Volleyball Co-Defensive Player of the Week, helping Delaware to the Radisson Cross Keys Greyhound Challenge title this past weekend with 55 digs and nine assists. She also posted a match-best 25 digs against UMBC and ranks fifth in the league, averaging 3.89 digs. Shonk was the 2012 CAA Defensive Specialist of the Year.

Last Meeting
When these two squads last met, last year in Newark, it looked to be in the home team’s favor. Delaware started strong, snatching the first two sets, 22-25, 23-25. However, the Quakers rallied and won the next three sets, 25-21, 26-24, 15-13, in one of the most historic comebacks in the program’s history. Shepherd surpassed the school record of individual match records in digs with 46; she held the record previously at 45.

The Libero
There is no question that Dani Shepherd is on her way to an historic career. Just look at some ofthe single-match, single-season, and career dig numbers already accumulated by the Ivy League's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2012 NCAA Digs-Per-Game leader...

Single-Game Digs
46 … Dani Shepherd (9/19/12 at Delaware)
45 … Dani Shepherd (10/1/11 vs. Harvard)
43 … Dani Shepherd (9/22/12 vs. Princeton)
41 … Dani Shepherd (9/10/11 vs. Alabama)
40… Madison Wojciechowski (11/1/08 vs. Cornell)

Single-Season Digs
617 … Dani Shepherd (2012)
607 … Madison Wojciechowski (2009)

Career Digs
2,141… Madison Wojciechowski (2007-10)
1,525… Cara Thomason (2002-05)
1,350 … Dani Shepherd (2010-present)

The Freshmen
Kenneth L. Gross Head Coach of Volleyball Kerry Carr has recruited three athletes to add to her class of 2017, an outside hitter and two middle blockers. Rachel Baader hails from Kildeer, Ill. and attended Stevenson High School, where she unfortunately missed her senior year due to injury. In 2011, Baader was highlighted in the Chicago Tribune as one of the city’s top performers. Lexi Slotkoff joins the Quakers after playing for McLean High School in McLean, Va. Slotkoff was a basketball player and didn’t start playing volleyball until 2010. Though she missed a few games her senior year due to injury, she still collected 170 kills and 45 blocks (25 solo). Finally, what is a Penn volleyball freshman class without having a member from California? Arielle Winfield, a native of LA, finished her career at Harvard-Westlake High School by winning the Mission League and totaling 200 kills and 19 blocks. Winfield also played on the same club team as teammate Dani Shepherd. The new additions provide depth to Coach Carr’s roster and will compete for starting positions.