PHILADELPHIA – With just two weekends remaining in the 2015 season, the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will play its final two home matches of the year this weekend against Brown and Yale.
The Quakers will first welcome the Bears to The Palestra on Friday night, followed by a matchup with Yale on Saturday. Penn will celebrate “Senior Night” against the Bulldogs, commemorating the final home match for the Red and Blue’s five seniors.
Penn will enter the weekend with a bit of momentum, after completing a season sweep of Dartmouth last Saturday at The Palestra. The Quakers put together one of their best matches of the season against the Big Green, sweeping them for the second time this season.
It was a team effort in the win on Saturday, as four Quakers registered at least seven kills. Penn also shared the load defensively, with four players reaching double digits in digs.
Senior Alexis Genske was the top scorer, notching a team-best nine kills. Sophomore Kendall Covington hit a team-high .400 with eight kills, while senior Jasmine DeSilva had eight of her own. Alex Caldwell continued her strong play of late, chipping in seven kills. Classmate Ronnie Bither put together her tenth double-double of the season with 36 assists and 16 digs. Penn out-blocked the Big Green, 11-8.
Saturday night’s match against Yale will be the last home match for Penn’s five seniors. Alexis Genske, Jasmine DeSilva, Alex Caldwell, Ronnie Bither and Michellie McDonald-O’Brien have all had a large impact on the program, each contributing since they stepped on campus four years ago.
Genske, McDonald-O'Brien, Caldwell and Bither have all appeared in more than 80 matches in their four seasons, while DeSilva -- who missed most of last season due to injury -- saw action in all of the Red and Blue's contests as a sophomore and 19-of-22 matches this season.
Bither enters the weekend fourth in the Penn record books with 2,383 assists in her career, while her 6.55 career assists per set ranks fifth. She also ranks 10th all-time in total digs (893), and eighth in service attempts (1,246).
Genske and Caldwell have also stacked up the numbers over the last four seasons, each recording more than 700 kills during their tenures.
Scouting the Bears...
Brown comes into Friday night with identical records to Penn, both in conference play and overall. Most recently, the Bears fell twice last weekend -- 3-0 to Columbia and 3-2 to Cornell. Brown has had several close calls this season, holding a 1-5 record in five-setters -- including an 0-3 mark in Ivy League play.
Freshman Sabrina Stillwell tops the entire Ivy League in kills this season with 282, while her 3.48 average ranks second in the conference. Junior Payton Smith currently sits fourth in the league in hitting percentage (.313).
Earlier this Season...
Brown defeated Penn, 3-0, in Providence on October 17. The Quakers were led by Genske and McDonald-O’Brien, who each notched 11 kills. Bither was also strong for the Quakers, dishing out 29 assists and registering 16 digs.
Smith led the way for the Bears, hitting a match-best .611 with 11 kills.
Series History: Quakers lead, 47-20
Scouting the Bulldogs...
The defending Ivy League champions, who have either won or shared the conference crown over the past four seasons, begin the weekend tied for second in the Ivy standings. Yale’s four losses in league play are more than the bulldogs’ previous three seasons combined. Yale split two five-setters last weekend, defeating Cornell and falling to Columbia.
Freshman Kelley Wirth and senior Kelly Johnson have carried the load offensively for Yale in 2015. The duo has accounted for over 42 percent (396) of the Bulldogs’ total kills. Sophomore Kelsey Crawford ranks third in the Ivy League, averaging 8.57 assists per set.
Earlier this Season...
Yale defeated Penn by a 3-1 margin on October 16. It was Genske and McDonald-O’Brien once again pacing the Quakers in the loss. Genske posted 14 kills and 13 digs, while McDonald-O’Brien picked up 13 kills of her own. Covington chipped in nine, hitting a team-best .421.
Series History: Penn leads, 34-26