Volleyball Loses A Five Set Thriller at Princeton

Penn-Princeton Box Score (pdf)

PRINCETON, N.J. - Penn volleyball showed flashes of promise throughout its match at Princeton on Friday night, but in the end a raucous crowd lifted the Tigers to a higher level as the Quakers fell 26-24, 19-25, 25-20, 21-25, 9-15, the third consecutive time that Penn and Princeton have gone five sets to determine a winner. Three Quakers hit double-figures in kills in the same match for the second time this season, as Lauren Martinswatted a game-high 20 and Susan Stuecheli and Amanda Pacheco added 13 and 12.

"I'm very happy with the way we played much of the time, I'm just not happy about the result," said head coach Kerry Carr. "I think the only difference in this match was one team was more experienced than the other. There were points where we got stuck doing the same things and we need to be able to adjust quickly, like Princeton did, rather than repeat them thinking the result might change.

"Princeton is an aggressive defensive team and there were certain times where we hit five balls that could have been kills and they all came back over to us. As the match went on, I think that wore us down physically and mentally."

Penn started the game quickly, scoring the first four points of the opening set, three coming off kills from Martin. Princeton would stay with Penn from there but it wasn't until 23-23 that the set was tied for the first time. Martin's sixth kill of the set gave Penn a match point but the Tigers would fight that off, tying the set again at 24-24. On Princeton's serve, the Quakers earned a side out off a Kristen Etterbeek kill, and Stuecheli blocked a back row attack to secure a first set win at 26-24.

A number of unlucky breaks cost Penn in the second set. Although the Red and Blue dominated most of the statistics, the Quakers fell behind early largely due to four aces from Princeton, the majority of which clipped the net and just fell over. Tied at 18-18, the Tigers put together five consecutive points, three of which came off Penn attack errors. Although a block from Stuecheli and Elizabeth Horner earned Penn a side out, Princeton would string together two more points for the 25-19 victory.

Penn again started out with a 4-0 lead in the third set, forcing a quick timeout, but the momentum didn't stop there, as consecutive attack errors gave Penn a 6-0 lead before Princeton could side out. The Tigers would close within two points on three separate occasions, the last time at 22-20, but Pacheco took over from there, combining a kill with two blocks to give Penn the 25-20 decision.

The Tigers stood their ground in the fourth set, jumping out to a six point lead at 10-4 before the serve of Dani Shepherd brought the Quakers back. After Emma White earned Penn a side out, Shepherd delivered the first of three aces in the set to make it 10-6. Her second and third aces tied the set for the first time at 17-17 and then gave the Red and Blue their only lead at 18-17. Tied at 20-20, Princeton's Lydia Rudnick got on a roll, hitting four straight kills to give the Tigers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

The fifth set went back and forth until Princeton scored four straight to up an 8-7 lead to 12-7. Martin would stem the tide with her final two kills of the match but it wasn't enough to bring Penn all the way back as they fell 15-9.

Kristin Schoonover set a career high with 37 assists in the losing effort. Shepherd added 25 digs to go with her game-high four aces.

Penn will have an opportunity to rebound when they return home to The Palestra tomorrow afternoon at4 pm andface the University of Delaware.

Download: Penn-Princeton Box.pdf