Volleyball Opens Ivy Play With Rival Princeton

PHILADELPHIA - The Penn volleyball team begins Ivy League play on Friday night with a trip to rival Princeton, slated for 7 p.m. This is the first Ivy Leaguematch of the season with the other league schools beginning on Saturday. The Red and Blue return home on Saturday for their final non-conferencematch of the season, a 4 p.m. date with the Delaware Blue Hens. Live stats for both matches will be available here, and streaming video for the Delaware match will be viewable through the Penn Sports Network.

Last Time Out
A 2-1 record in the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Penn Invitational was enough for the Quakers to bring home the hardware thanks to a head-to-head victory over UMBC, the other 2-1 team in the four-team, round-robin tournament. Penn started the tournament on Friday night with a 3-0 win over Rhode Island. Susan Stuecheli slammed 16 kills with a hitting percentage of .714 in the 25-15, 26-24, 25-21 rout. The offense continued to shine in the Quakers' 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 25-10 triumph over a talented UMBC squad. Lauren Martin had 18 kills while Amanda Pacheco added 15 and Kristen Etterbeek 10. With the tournament championship already assured and playing one hour after the conclusion of its previous match, Penn came out flat in the finale and gave away a match to William & Mary, 22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 22-25. Etterbeek set a career high with 16 kills against the Tribe and Martin added 15 but the defense came up short, allowing William & Mary to hit .323 as a team for the match.

Penn Vs. Princeton
Princeton leads the all-time series between the two schools, 43-28. The two split a pair of five-set matches last season with the road team winning each. Princeton defeated Penn in the Ivy opener after the Quakers had a 2-0 lead, blazing back for a 24-26, 15-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-9 win. In the regular-season finale, it was Penn who rallied when it really mattered. After jumping ahead in the first set 25-22, Penn fell in the second and third sets 25-27 and 24-26. Needing a win to earn a share of the Ivy League title and set up a one-game playoff versus Yale for an NCAA Tournament bid, the Quakers fought off four match points in the fourth and fifth sets and eventually claimed the match with 29-27 and 16-14 set victories.

Penn Vs. Delaware
Like Penn, Delaware is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Quakers fell in this match-up 3-1 last season (25-14, 16-25, 27-29, 15-25). The Blue Hens were led by the double-double of Kim Stewart (16 kills, 11 digs)as well as the 13 kills of Alissa Alker. The Penn duo of Susan Stuecheli (12 kills) and Amanda Pacheco (11 kills) each hit over .400 in a losing effort. Delaware leads the all-time series 13-8.

Scouting the Tigers
Princeton enters Friday's game at 7-5 after a midweek loss to Seton Hall that was as close as a sweep can be, the Pirates squeaking by 27-25, 26-24, 25-23. Containing Cathryn Quinn will be a high priority for the Quakers. The senior middle blocker leads the team with 143 kills (3.49 per set, third in the Ivy) and hits at a .323 clip. At 4.50 points per set, Quinn is currently the league leader in that category. Freshman Sarah Hanna has gotten her collegiate career off to a fast start, ranking second on the Tigers with 112 kills (2.80, ninth in the Ivy). Another freshman, Ginny Willis, has taken control of the setter position for Princeton and is dishing out 9.23 assists per set, checking in at fourth in the Ivy League. Senior Michaela Venuti, the primary setter in 2010, will still see the court at times as well. Defensively, Hillary Ford trails onlyPenn's own Dani Shepherd for the league lead in digs per set. Her 5.49 average is among the Top 15 nationally. At the net, Quinn is again a force, her 1.07 blocks per set putting her third in the Ivy while three of her teammates, Nicole Kincade, Leah Jordan and Jennifer Palmquist, all average over 0.80 blocks per set themselves.

Scouting the Blue Hens
Delaware is currently 6-9 although the Henswill have a Friday night game at Towson before taking on the Quakers. The Blue Hens have a consistent rotation with seven players having started and appeared in every set thus far. Three outside hitters already have over 500 attacks on the season: senior Kim Stewart, junior Alissa Alker and sophomore Katie Hank. Although each has over 130 kills on the season and Hank is ranked in the top five in the CAA with 3.50 kills per set, it is junior middle blocker Chelsea Lawrence who leads the team in hitting percentage at just .233. Renee Tomko is the setter and ranks third in the CAA with 10.29 assists per set. Five regulars have over 100 digs and each averages over two digs per set, led by Cara Rosehill's 4.84 per set. Up front, Karina Evans has 57 blocks on the season (1.02 per set).

Digging Deep
Dani Shepherd established a school record in digstwo weekends agowith 41 versus Alabama, breaking the old mark of 40 set by Madison Wojciechowski in the 2008 campaign. The sophomore libero leads the Ivy League with 5.83 digs per set and is seventh nationally in that category. Kim Maroon of Villanova, one of Penn's first opponents, is the national leader at 6.84. In addition to Shepherd, three other Ivy League players are in the Top 20: Hillary Ford of Princeton (12th, 5.49), Annika Gliottone of Brown (16th, 5.45) and Christine Wu of Harvard (17th, 5.39).

Hard to Kill
Penn's offense will have its hands full this weekend when the Tigers and Blue Hens come to call. Both Princeton and Delaware are among the Top 40 in the nation in team digs per set, Princeton (16.84) ranking 35th in the category with Delaware (17.87) checking in at 13th.

Ivy Rankings
Within the Ivy League, Susan Stuecheli is fifth individually in hitting percentage (.325)while Lauren Martinranks ninth(.289). Martin is also fifth in kills per set at 3.31. The setting combo of Kristin Schoonover and Meghan Connolly rank eighth and ninth, respectively, in assists per set with 5.56 for Schoonover and 5.31 for Connolly. Besides leading the league in digs, Dani Shepherd is also in a second place tie in service aces and Stuecheli is sixth in the league in blocks with seven solos and 29 assists for a 1.00 block per set average.

Just Like Old Times
When the trio of Martin, Pacheco and Etterbeek each recordeddouble-digit killsin the win over UMBC, it marked the first time since Penn's Ivy League playoff victory over Yale on Nov. 21, 2010that the Quakers had threeplayers reach that mark in the same match. Martin and Pacheco each had a hand that time around as well. Martin led the Quaker offense with 22 kills while Pacheco added 11 to send the Red and Blue to the NCAA Tournament.