Volleyball Prepares for Road Clashes at Brown and Yale

PHILADELPHIA - After two strong outings last weekend in sweeps over Cornell and Columbia, the Penn volleyball team looks to keep the momentum going on the road at Brown and Yale. At 8-8 overall with a 3-2 record in the Ivy League, the Quakers are squarely in the title race. While the Red and Blue are busy with Brown on Friday night at 7 p.m., Ivy League co-leaders Princeton and Yale will be facing off for the first time. Penn closes out its trip against the Bulldogs on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Last Time Out
Playing in front of two large and boisterous crowds over Family Weekend, Penn rose to the occasion and delivered two quick knockouts of visiting Cornell and Columbia. Emma White was the lone player from either team to reach double-figures in kills on Friday in a 25-21, 27-25, 25-23 win over the Big Red, delivering 12 of them along with 12 digs. Kristen Etterbeek had nine kills and nine digs, while Susan Stuecheli added nine kills with a team-high .389 hitting percentage. The team was even more over-powering on Saturday, dominating a talented Columbia squad, 25-18, 25-21, 25-22. Etterbeek had a match-high 15 kills while hitting .419 and White notched her 10th double-double of the season with 12 kills and 14 digs. Dani Shepherd had 13 digs in the first set alone and ended up with 26 in the match on her way to earning Ivy League Player of the Week honors.

Scouting the Bears
At 1-4 in the league, Brown is part of a three-way tie at the bottom of the standings with Cornell and Dartmouth. But the Bears have shown some life as of late, winning two of three including a 3-0 sweep of the Big Green on Saturday evening. At home, Brown is 2-1 overall with the loss coming to Yale, although they did take a set off the Bulldogs. The Brown attack begins and ends with Maddie Lord. Lord is third in the Ivy League in kills with 3.02 per set, and has more than double the kills of her next closest teammate. Alexandra Rieckhoff handles the setting duties and hands out 6.25 per set. Defensively, Kathryn Conner has stepped up and assumed second place in the Ivy League in digs behind Penn's Shepherd. At 4.76 per set, Conner leads the way for a fairly strong back row that features four players averaging more than two digs per set. At the same time, Brown has struggled to serve receive, giving up 93 aces in just 51 sets of action for an average of 1.82 per set, worst among the Ancient Eight.

Scouting the Bulldogs
Winners of six straight - five of them Ivy League contests - Yale comes in on a roll but will be put to the test in both of its matches this weekend. With 19.73 digs per set, the Bulldogs are second in the nation only to Penn. Three members of the team are among the top 10 in the Ivy League in digs, led by Maddie Rudnick at 4.67 per set. Yale also is strong offensively, ranking fourth in the nation in kills (14.83 per set) and sixth in assists (13.81). Five players average over two kills per set, with Mollie Rogers pacing the team at 3.00. Haley Wessels (.356) and Jesse Ebner (.337) are third and fourth in the league, respectively, in hitting percentage. Defending Ivy League Player of the Year, Kendall Polan, sets the table for Yale's offensive weapons, averaging 7.08 assists per set while chipping in with 2.35 kills and 3.92 digs.

#1 vs. #2
Strong defense is almost assured to be on display when Penn and Yale meet on Saturday night. The Quakers have thus far led the nation in digs wire-to-wire, currently sitting comfortably in first at 21.45 per set. Right behind them lurks the Bulldogs, who are second not only in the Ivy League but also in the nation with 19.73 per set. No other team in the country averages over 19 digs per set.

With that kind of ability to keep the ball in the air, it isn't exactly shocking that the two teams are the best in the Ivies in terms of opponents' hitting percentage. Penn is the best in the league, allowing the opposition to hit .172, while Yale is second at .174.

The teams thrive offensively as well, running 1-2 in the league in both kills and assists. Yale takes the lead in these categories with 14.83 kills per set off of 13.81 assists. The Red and Blue actually have the most kills of any team in the Ivy League (825), but have played 14 more sets than the Bulldogs. They are in second with 13.31 kills per set from 12.27 assists.

Movin' On Up
Lauren Martin got her name in the record books after recording seven kills this past weekend. That was enough to give her 925 for her career, which puts her 10th on the all-time kills list in Penn program history. Her climb will likely continue as the year progresses, with Sherrie Clarey (930 kills), Fu-Chin Lee (938) and Suzie Schuman (953) all within range.

Live Stats/Video
Live stats and video from each institution will be available for the matches this weekend. On Friday night, live stats from the Brown match can be viewed here. A one-day pass to watch the Quakers and the Bears is also available for the price of $8.

Saturday's live stats for the Yale match can be seen here. If you're looking to view the match between two of the top programs in the Ivy League, the Bulldogs offer a single-match package for $8.95.