Volleyball Readies for Ivy League Home Openers

PHILADELPHIA - Penn volleyball gets its Ivy League home campaign underway this weekend when Dartmouth and Harvard make the trip south. The Quakers host the Big Green on Friday at 7 p.m., while the Crimson will follow on Saturday at 5 p.m. following their Friday night game at Princeton. Live stats will be available for both matches here, while live streaming broadcasts will be offered via the Penn Sports Network here.

Last Time Out

In the Ivy League opener last Friday at Princeton, Penn suffered a 26-24, 19-25, 25-20, 21-25, 9-15 setback. Lauren Martin was busy with 20 kills and Kristin Schoonover had a career high 37 digs, but the Tigers won the third consecutive five-set match between the two schools.

On Saturday, the Quakers held their final non-conference match of the season, hosting the University of Delaware. Despite the 3-0 victory for the Blue Hens, the match was much closer than the final result. Battling back from deficits in each set, Penn had the score tied at 23-23 in both the first and third sets before UD could close them out in a 25-23, 25-19, 25-23 victory.

Penn Versus
The Quakers have a long line of success against both Dartmouth and Harvard. The Red and Blue have won the last nine meetings with the Big Green, the last Dartmouth victory coming on October 7, 2006. Going further back, Penn has taken 19 of the last 20 against the visitors from New Hampshire with Kerry Carr compiling a 20-4 record against them in her tenure.

Penn was a perfect 2-0 versus Harvard in the 2010 season, not dropping a set in the process. During the Quakers' 2009 Ivy championship campaign, Harvard supplied the only league loss for the 13-1 squad. That, however, has been the only win for the Crimson versus Penn in the last 12 contests. Penn holds a 41-8 edge in the all-time series.

Scouting the Big Green
Dartmouth enters the weekendwith a 9-3 record anda five-game winning streak, giving the Big Green the best overall record in the Ivies. Madeline Baird and Annie Villanueva form a dangerous 1-2 punch of frontline players, each having won an Ivy League Player of the Week Award already this season. Baird leads Dartmouth with 164 kills while Villanueva hits at a .384 clip, good for 25th nationally. Contributions across the board have the Big Green ranked eighth in the nation in digs per set. Amber Bryant leads the team at 4.89, but a total of eight other players all add over one dig per set to the team total. Dartmouth is last in the Ivy League in blocks per set, averaging only 1.67, but the team's ability to keep the ball alive has given them an Ivy-best .143 opponent's hitting percentage.

Scouting the Crimson
Harvard comes into this weekend at 0-1 in the Ivy after a five-set home loss to Dartmouth. The Crimson will first meet Princeton on Friday night before taking on the Quakers. Harvard has a stable core of seven players who have started every match. Junior outside hitter Taylor Docter is the offensive leader with 2.88 kills per set, but three others also add over two kills apiece. Junior setter Beth Kinsella is currently only one of two players in the Ivy League with over 10 assists per set, and senior libero Christine Wu trails only Penn's Dani Shepherd in the Ivies for digs per set and is 15th nationally in the category at 5.47. As a team, the Crimson are 23rd nationally in digs per set (17.26). Harvard also is the Ivy League leader in aces, with 1.40 per set.

Digging Deep
Dani Shepherd established a school record in digs at the Rocket Classic with 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 5.90 digs per set and is sixth nationally in that category. In addition to Shepherd, three other Ivy League players are in the Top 25: Christine Wu of Harvard (15th, 5.47), Hillary Ford of Princeton (19th, 5.37) and Annika Gliottone of Brown (21st, 5.30).

Ivy Rankings
Within the Ivy League, Susan Stuecheli is sixth individually in hitting percentage (.319) while Lauren Martin ranks 10th (.280). Martin is also fourth in kills per set at 3.30 and sixth in points scored per set with 3.65. The setting combo of Kristin Schoonover and Meghan Connolly rank ninth and 10th, respectively, in assists per set with 5.68 for Schoonover and 5.07 for Connolly. Besides leading the league in digs, Dani Shepherd is also first in the Ivies with 17 service aces on the season, for a 0.40 per set average.

Helping Hands
Two setters, Kristin Schoonover and Hilary Ash, both set career highs in assists over the weekend. Schoonover got the ball rolling in Friday's five-set match with Princeton when she dished out 37 assists, breaking her previous mark of 29. The next day, Ash, receiving her most playing time of the season, responded with 21 in a narrow three-set loss to Delaware.

Ire the Tigers
Penn's Ivy-opening loss to Princeton isn't a completely unfamiliar event. The Quakers have opened conference play with their local rival every year since 2001, but have fallen in five of the last six seasons, three times including last Friday in five sets. In 2007 and 2010 (2009 being Penn's one win in that stretch), Penn has rebounded to tally double-digit wins in Ivy League play.