Volleyball Opens Ivy Play on Friday

PHILADELPHIA - The Quakers open up their Ivy League slate this weekend when they host rival Princeton on Friday at 7 p.m., before finishing off their non-league schedule with a bout against Marquette Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Red and Blue come back to the friendly confines of the Palestra for the first time in nearly a month when they take on the Tigers and the Golden Eagles. Penn is 16-6 at the Palestra over the past two seasons, including an 11-3 mark against Ancient Eight opponents.

Last Time Out
The Quakers came out like gangbusters against Delaware last Saturday, opening with a 25-14 first set victory. The Blue Hens made adjustments in the second set, winning 25-16. The third was a battle as neither team could create separation. Down 24-23, Penn came back to take a 25-24 lead, however Delaware fought to tie it up and the two teams traded points until two straight by the Blue Hens gave them the 29-27 win. In the final set Delaware closed it out, 25-15. The Quakers were led by their middles, sophomore Amanda Pacheco and freshman Susan Stuecheli. Pacheco hit .429 with 11 kills, while Stuecheli added 12 kills while firing at .474 clip.

Penn vs. Princeton
Last season Penn swept Princeton in its two meetings, winning 3-0 to open league play and closing out the regular season with a 3-1 triumph in the Palestra. The victories snapped a seven-match losing streak to the Tigers, going back to the 2005 season. Despite the run of recent Princeton success, the Quakers have actually won four Ivy championships to Princeton's two over in the past decade. Overall the two rivals have accounted for 23 Ancient Eight championships in volleyball's 32 year Ivy history.

Scouting the Tigers
Princeton enters the weekend with a 5-6 record, however, similar to Penn, the Tigers took on a tough non-conference schedule which included matches with perennial power St. John's and No. 2 Penn State. Sophomore Lydia Rudnick leads the Princeton offense, averaging 3.97 kills per set. She is also the only Tiger hitting over .200, firing at a .233 clip. Sophomore Molly Bagshaw and junior Michaela Venturi split the passing duties, as they average 6.64 and 6.35 assists per set respectively. Despite only hitting .158 as a team, Princeton makes up for it with solid defense. At the net, sophomore Jennifer Palmquist and junior Cathryn Quinn provide a formidable duo. The two average .83 (29) and .81 (26) blocks per set, while C.C. Lobben averages 4.22 digs per set on the back line.

Scouting the Golden Eagles
Marquette enters the weekend at 7-7, with losses in each of its last three matches. The Golden Eagles played a pair of top ten teams in Minnesota and Stanford earlier in the season, and two weeks ago dispatched of Harvard in three sets, 25-15, 25-15, 25-18. The team is led by junior outside Ashley Beyer. Beyer leads the team with 4.05 kills per set and .32 service aces per set (13), all while hitting a respectable .223. Senior Rabbecka Gonyo is also formidable, averaging three kills per set while hitting a blistering.467, good for fifth in the nation. The 6-4 middle also makes her presence felt on defense, averaging a team-best 1.00 blocks per set. The defense as a whole only averages 13.96 digs per set, compared to Penn's 17.4, but makes up for it by recording 1.92 blocks per set and hitting .273.

Following the Red and Blue
Fans of the Quakers can follow all the action though live stats (click here) or by watching the webcast on the Penn Sports Network (click here)

Going for Win 203
With two wins this weekend, head coach Kerry Carr would tied the program's all-time win record of 203, set by Joe Sagula. Carr has 201 victories in 14 seasons at the helm of the Quakers. She also will be going for her 99th career Ivy League victory Friday against Princeton.

Dig Pink
Saturday's match against Marquette will be Penn's Dig Pink match this year. Dig Pink is an initiative to bring about awareness and raise money for breast cancer research. Fans are encouraged to wear something pink to the match on Saturday or buy a pink volleyball shirt at the Palestra to show their support. They may also make donations at the matchwith all proceeds goingto the Side-Out Foundation. Side-Out is an organization dedicated to breast cancer research through volleyball tournaments, clinics, and rallies. Those who would like to donate to Side-Out online may do so by clicking here.

The initiative is also very close to Carr as she is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and forced to take a leave of absence for the final two months of the season. It was caught early and Carr returned to the sidelines for the 2009 season, leading her squad to the program's ninth Ivy League championship last year.

Can You Dig It?
Wojciechowski had 24 digs in the Red and Blue's only match last weekend, extending her streak of consecutive matches with at least ten digs to 20 matches. During that span she has three matches with over 30 digs and 11 with at least 20 digs.

National Rankings
The Quakers are currently ranked 18th in the country in digs per set, at 17.35. Wojciechowski's 5.61 lead the team and are also good for 12th in the nation. Senior Julia Swanson is second at 2.75, while fellow classmate Megan Tryon (2.58) and junior Logan Johnson (2.46) are third and fourth.

Double-Digit Kills
Versus Delaware, Penn three players with at least ten kills in Swanson (17), Susan Stuecheli (12) and Amanda Pacheco (11). It is the second time that has happened this season, as Pacheco (15), Swanson (12) and Lauren Martin (10) achieved that feat in a five-set loss to Villanova (9/4).

Killer Instinct
Swanson leads the Quaker offense with 3.28 kills per set while hitting a career-best .214.Sophomore Amanda Pacheco is second at 2.49, while Martin is third with 2.31 kills per set. Pacheco leads the team hitting .369, while Stuecheli is second at .308.