CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Coming into the weekend, the Penn volleyball team knew that it would need two road victories to position itself well in the battle for an Ivy League championship. They managed to do just that, sealing the perfect weekend with a 3-0 victory at Harvard Saturday (30-23, 30-20, 30-28). Senior Anna Shlimak posted her second straight double-double for the Quakers (12-7, 5-2) and led all scorers with 14 kills.
"This was a great defensive effort for us," said head coach Kerry Carr. "It was fantastic today. We had some incredible digs, and we blocked well. That's the kind of thing we need out of our blocking game all the time. We forced them to make mistakes and it paid off."
The dominant blocking game showed itself early, as Penn rejected six of Harvard's shots in the first game, while the Crimson was unable to register a block. Sophomore Natalie Drucker had three of her four blocks in the match in the first game. A balanced scoring effort was led by Shlimak, who slammed in four kills in the game. Harvard managed to take a brief 19-18 lead over the Quakers before Penn turned up the intensity and grabbed control of the game with an 11-2 run, eventually winning 30-23.
Shlimak and freshman Julia Swanson dominated the second game, as each knocked in five kills. Unlike the first game, Harvard was unable to put up much of a fight, as Penn jumped out to a 10-3 advantage and led by as many as 13 points on three separate occasions during the game.
With many of the Quaker reserves seeing time in the third game, Harvard appeared poised to get itself back into the match. After the two teams could not put together a run for much of the game, the Crimson pulled out to a 28-25 lead late. Sophomore Anne Magnuson slammed homea kill that earned the Quakers a sideout, though, and the team went on a 5-0 run keyed by two Nicole DeCuir kills and a final successful attack for Shlimak to take the match.
"We were focused today," Carr said of her team's effort. "We were determined to dominate the match and play our best. This weekend says a lot about where we are as a team and what we can do the rest of the year. We are excited about where we are as a team."
The Quakers have started a five-game road trip 3-0 and will wrap it up next weekend with trips to Columbia and Cornell.