PHILADELPHIA - In conjunction with the Side-Out Foundation and the Rena Rowan Breast Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will hold its annual Dig Pink! Rally to raise money for breast-cancer research at this weekend’s matches against Cornell and Columbia.
The Quakers will take on the Big Red on Friday at 7 p.m. and Columbia on Saturday at 5 p.m. Both matches are scheduled to be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network. Fans are encouraged to wear pink at both matches, and donations are currently being accepted online or at the doors this weekend.
The Quakers, who return home for the first time in 21 days, are coming off a 1-1 stretch in their first full Ivy-League weekend of the season. The Red and Blue notched their fifth sweep of the season and extended a four-match winning streak on Friday night against Dartmouth. Penn had their momentum halted on Saturday against Harvard, as the Quakers were on the wrong side of a sweep versus the Crimson. Penn is now 2-1 in the Ivy League, tied for second behind a 3-0 Yale team.
The Quakers were nothing short of dominant in their win over the Big Green last Friday, tallying set wins of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-12. Seniors Ronnie Bither and Alexis Genske kept on rolling, with each player nearly missing out on a double-double. Genske racked up nine kills, to go along with nine digs -- while Bither registered 29 assists and nine digs. Bither currently leads the Ivy League, averaging 9.27 assists per frame this season.
Classmate Jasmine DeSilva was also a significant contributor on Friday night, recording eight kills and hitting a team-best .333.
The positive vibes from Friday did not roll into Saturday for the Quakers, as they compiled their lowest hitting percentage (.019) of the season against Harvard. Genske, along with Alex Caldwell, combined for 13 kills in the loss. The defeat to Harvard ended a stretch of ten consecutive set victories for Penn and snapped the Quakers’ second four-match winning streak of the season.
Scouting the Big Red...
Cornell enters Friday night on a five-match losing streak and owners of a 4-9 record this season. Most recently, the Big Red is coming off a 3-2 loss to Yale on Saturday. Cornell held a 2-0 lead on the defending Ivy League champions, but fell 25-15, 25-18 and 15-11 in the final three frames. Columbia and Brown have also gotten the better of Cornell this season, as the Big Red stand at 0-3 in the Ivy League.
Junior Macey Wilson has been a large bright spot for Cornell, currently leading the Ivy League in hitting percentage (.352) and ranking third in the league in blocks per set (1.05). Sophomore Emily Wemhoff paces the squad in kills, putting together a 2.47 average per game. Other notable performers this season have been Alyssa Phelps and Chelsea Sincox. Phelps leads the team with 202 digs this season (4.04/set), while Sincox is averaging a team-best 6.62 assists per set.
Cornell’s wins this season have come against William & Mary, Iona, George Mason and Binghamton.
Series History: Penn leads, 43-23
Last Season: The Quakers and the Big Red split two matches last season, with both teams successfully defending their home courts. Genske and Caldwell were masterful in the four-set win over Cornell at The Palestra. The duo combined for 27 kills and 30 digs, while Caldwell also dished out 22 assists to pick up a triple-double.
Scouting the Lions...
Columbia holds a 3-9 record this season, and a mark of 1-2 in the Ancient Eight. The Lions are coming off a tough 3-2 loss to Brown on Saturday -- a match in which they won the first two sets. Down 2-0, 22-17, Brown roared back with set wins of 26-24, 25-20 and 15-8. Columbia’s lone Ivy win this season came in the conference-opener against Cornell. The Lions rebounded from dropping the first game to notch a 3-1 win over the Big Red. In addition to the win over Cornell, the Lions also have triumphs over NJIT and Northeastern.
Junior Zoe Jacobs has provided much of the offensive firepower this season, leading Columbia with 123 kills -- 42 more than another other Lions’ player. Junior Cassie Wes is the only Columbia player to have appeared in all 45 sets this season, producing stability out of the libero position. Cassie leads the team and is second in the conference, averaging 4.67 digs per frame.
Columbia will play at Princeton on Friday night, prior to its trip to The Palestra.
Series History: Penn leads, 51-5
Last Season: Penn and Columbia split two matches in 2014, each notching wins on the road. Genske and Caldwell were once again pivotal factors in the Quakers’ triumph in New York City. Caldwell racked up her fourth triple-double of the season, tallying 10 kills, 26 assists and 14 digs. Genske registered a squad-best 17 kills.