Volleyball Looks to Continue Winning Ways in New England

PHILADELPHIA – Penn volleyball heads to New England this weekend, but foliage and sightseeing are not on the menu for the Quakers. Instead, the Red and Blue are looking to extend their five-match winning streak with wins over Harvard (Fri, 7 p.m.) and Dartmouth (Sat., 4 p.m.).

Penn enters the weekend looking to climb above .500 for the season. The Quakers are currently 10-11 overall with a 6-3 record in the Ivy League. Harvard is 9-13 in 2008 with a 4-6 mark in the Ancient Eight. Dartmouth is 8-13 and possesses a 3-7 record in the Ivies.

A pair of victories this weekend would equal Penn’s longest winning streak since the Quakers won seven in a row from Oct. 16-Nov. 3 last season.

Since a 3-2 loss to Brown Oct. 17, Penn has rattled off its quintet of wins thanks in large part to more consistent play at the net from its key offensive attackers.

Last weekend, senior middle blocker Kathryn Turner had just two errors in 43 total attacks, good for a .488 hitting percentage for the weekend. Turner is hitting .276 for the season which ranks her sixth in the Ivy League. She was a factor at the net defensively as well, blocking two attacks on her own and assisting on two others in the 3-1 win over Columbia.

Sophomore outside hitter Julia Swanson has been Penn’s primary source of offense for much of the season. Her 277 kills leads the team and ranks second among Ivy players. She finished last weekend with 34 kills in the two games, including a match-high 21 against the Lions. The 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year needs 22 kills to set a new career high.

Swanson’s fellow second-year player, libero Madison Wojciechowski, set a school record for digs in a match with 40 in the 3-2 win over Cornell last Saturday. She eclipsed the previous mark of 38 set by Cara Thomason in 2004. Wojciechowski now owns three of the top-six single-match dig marks in school history. She became just the sixth player in the country to record 40+ digs in a match this season. She has 396 digs on the season – 61 away from the school record she set in her freshman campaign. Wojciechowski sits 32nd in the country in digs per set, averaging 4.89.

Penn heads north with a chance to stay in the hunt for the Ivy title. The Quakers are currently third in the league with a 6-3 record in the Ancient Eight. Yale (9-1) and Princeton (8-1) are in the driver’s seat with two weeks left in the season, but Penn can remain in contention with a second sweep of the Crimson and Big Green.

Two weeks ago, Penn hosted this weekend’s opponents in The Palestra and came away with a pair of 3-0 sweeps. The Red and Blue’s win over Dartmouth was a complete team effort as four players had double-digits in kills and a trio of women reached double figures in digs. Swanson was the leads for Penn, recording a double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs. Megan MacGregor paced the Big Green with 10 of their 33 kills.

The next night, Penn took control of the match with a 25-12 win in the first set and never looked back, rolling to a 3-0 win. Swanson was the only player on both teams to record double figures in kills, swinging home 19 points. The Quakers did a good job neutralizing Harvard’s Anne Ingersoll in the match, holding the stellar freshman to just seven kills and a hitting percentage of .125, well below her season percentage of .374. Lily Durwood, the Ivy leader in assists with 835, only managed 20 for the Crimson in the match.