PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will host the top two teams in the Ivy League this weekend, beginning with Harvard on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Quakers will follow with a matchup against Dartmouth at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Big Green, who the Quakers defeated earlier this season, and the Crimson are currently tied for first in the Ancient Eight with a conference mark of 6-2. Both contests will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
The Quakers, who were in action just once over the weekend, fell 3-1 to Princeton on Saturday evening. Penn was a 25-22 victor in the second set against the Tigers, but that was all the Red and Blue could muster. Princeton and the Quakers split their season series, with both teams notching triumphs on the road.
Senior Alex Caldwell was one of the few bright spots for Penn against Princeton, registering a team-high 11 kills. Freshman Courtney Quinn hit a team-best .333 with seven kills, while chipping in 12 digs. Senior Alexis Genske also had seven kills, to go along with seven digs. As a team, the Quakers hit .093 for the match -- their second lowest percentage of the season.
Senior Ronnie Bither had her double-double streak snapped at four, failing to reach double-digit digs for the first time since October 3. Classmate Michellie McDonald-O’Brien contributed six kills in the loss.
Since Ivy League play has begun, McDonald-O’Brien leads the Quakers with 62 kills – 21 more than any other of her teammates. She also leads the team with a .219 hitting percentage and nearly a block per game.
The first 100 fans at Friday night’s match against the Crimson will receive a free tumbler cup, while all fans that wear a costume to Saturday’s Halloween match will be provided free pizza.
Scouting the Crimson...
The Crimson (10-8, 6-2) enter Friday having won six of their last seven matches, including a 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-19) sweep of Dartmouth last Saturday. The victory over the Big Green created a tie atop the Ivy League standings, and also avenged a 3-2 loss to Dartmouth earlier this season. Senior Kathleen Wallace (nine kills) led the way for a Crimson squad that hit .304 for the match, and forced Dartmouth to hit .084 –their second lowest hitting percentage of the season.
Wallace has led the way offensively for Harvard this season, averaging 3.26 kills per set. Freshman Christina Cornelius has anchored the Crimson defense, leading the entire Ivy League in blocks per set (1.46). She also has 119 kills to her name, while hitting a team-best .337.
Earlier this Season...
Harvard defeated Penn by a score of 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-14) on October 3. The Quakers hit a season-low .019 and were out-blocked, 12-1. Genske registered a team-high 7 of Penn’s season-low 27 kills. Wallace patrolled the offense for Harvard, racking up a match-high 13 kills and hitting .370.
Series History: Penn leads, 45-15.
Scouting the Big Green...
Dartmouth (9-8, 6-1) is coming off a 3-0 setback to Harvard on Saturday, a loss that snapped a five-match winning streak. Freshman Sierra Lyle and junior Emily Astarita each recorded eight kills against the Crimson, while Allison Brady chipped in 6 of her own. Astarita currently leads the Ivy League, averaging nearly four kills (3.98) per frame.
2015 has been a turnaround season of sorts for Dartmouth, as the Big Green already has more Ivy wins than in any of the previous three seasons. Prior to 2015, Dartmouth was 9-33 in conference action since the beginning of the 2012 season.
Dartmouth will travel to take on Princeton on Friday night, prior to Saturday’s visit to The Palestra.
Earlier this Season...
The Quakers put together one of their best efforts of the season in defeating Dartmouth, 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-12), on October 2. Genske and fellow senior Jasmine DeSilva were the top performers for Penn, totaling 17 of the Quakers’ 34 kills. DeSilva hit a team-best .333, while classmate Ronnie Bither dished out 29 assists. With the win, the Quakers began the season 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2009.
Series History: Penn leads, 46-7.