PHILADELPHIA - The 2007 Penn volleyball season opens Friday at 7:30 when the Quakers travel to Seton Hall to take on the host Pirates in the opener of the Seton Hall Tournament. The Quakers will then face Stony Brook and Fairfield in a doubleheader at Walsh Gymnasium Saturday afternoon.
The Quakers will face a Seton Hall team that is 4-3 on the young season. The Pirates are coming off a 3-2 victory over NJIT on Wednesday (30-17, 30-23, 23-30, 30-32, 16-14). Out of the Big East, Seton Hall has failed to qualify for their conference tournament for the past eleven years.
After tangling with the hosts, Penn will face Stony Brook, which comes into the Seton Hall Tournament 3-5. The Seawolves were last in action on Tuesday, when they fell 3-0 to St. John’s (30-22, 30-18, 30-25).
The Quakers will wrap up their trip to Seton Hall with a match against Fairfield. The Stags are 1-7 thus far in 2007, although their lone victory came in their tournament tune-up, a 3-0 defeat of NJIT on Saturday (31-29, 30-18, 30-20).
Penn opens the 2007 campaign looking to rebound after a disappointing 11-14 season in 2006 that saw the Quakers finish fifth in the Ivy League. Head Coach Kerry Carr expects her team to be up to the challenge.
“The team’s attitude is incredible,” she said. “They have prepared themselves mentally and physically for an Ivy League championship. A team that is this focused, unified, and goal-oriented is destined for success!”
Carr expressed excitement at the leadership of the senior class on a team that features 15 freshmen and sophomores.
“I am so excited about this year’s senior class,” she asserted. “They all demonstrated improvement in their individual play, which means they will all contribute significantly on the court in every match. Off the court, they have really taken the time to learn what it takes for each of them to lead more efficiently. All four have defining roles in the leadership of this team.”
Seniors Laura Black (RS/OH), Meredith Laning (L) and Anna Shlimak (OH) will act as the team’s tri-captains this season, while fellow senior Linda Zhang (S) was named the Unity Council captain.
Meanwhile, a talented freshman class will compete for playing time as the Quakers vie for the league crown. Britt Danneman (MB/RS), Nicole DeCuir (MB/RS), Emily Ettel (S/RS), Julia Swanson (OH), Megan Tryon (S/OH) and Madison Wojciechowski (L) form the volleyball Class of 2011 and have Carr excited for the future.
“We have two players coming in from one of the top junior teams in the nation, with international playing experience and a silver medal at this summer’s Junior Olympics 18-Open,” Carr said. “We also have height coming in with two players over 6'1", and ball control from an incoming libero. I know they will have an impact.”
The Quakers also welcome sophomore Carolyn Mooney, who transferred to Penn from Rutgers.
Despite their youth, the Quakers will start an experienced squad, as six of last year’s seven regular starters are returning. They also return their top three leaders in kills from last season in Laura Black (276), Anna Shlimak (223) and Kathryn Turner (218).
Some notes heading into the weekend...
Penn returns six of seven starters and 11 letterwinners from last season.
All six of the Red and Blue’s returning starters played in at least 75 percent of Penn’s matches.
The Quakers return their top three leaders in kills from last season in Laura Black (276), Anna Shlimak (223) and Kathryn Turner (218).
Both Black (second-team) and Turner (honorable mention) received All-Ivy honors last season.
The Quakers finished last season ranked No. 46 in the country in digs per game (18.13).