PHILADELPHIA The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will stay close to home again this weekend, as they compete against their city rivals in the Big 5 Tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Quakers will first welcome Villanova to The Palestra on Friday at 7 p.m., a matchup that will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Following the tussle with the Wildcats, Penn will make its way up Broad Street on Saturday to take on Temple at 10 a.m. and La Salle at 4 p.m.
*The Quakers, who are now 4-4 on the season, are coming off a 3-1 loss to Delaware on Tuesday night. Penn dropped the first two sets against the Blue Hens and was unable to dig itself out of a 2-0 deficit. Delaware out-blocked the Quakers by a 17-3 margin and hit .271 for the match. The Red and Blue put together a strong third set, hitting a season-high .483 in a 25-18 win.
*Senior Alex Caldwell proved to be one of the bright spots against the Blue Hens, as she notched season-highs in both hitting percentage (.400) and kills (19). Fellow seniors Alexis Genske and Ronnie Bither were also strong for the Quakers. Genske racked up 12 kills, while Bither posted her second consecutive double-double with 51 assists and 15 digs.
*Genske and Bither now lead their respective statistical categories in the Ivy League, with Genske pacing the conference in total kills (101) and Bither topping the Ancient Eight in assists per set (9.63). Freshman Taylor Cooper joins the duo on top of the league, averaging a conference-best 1.31 blocks per set.
*The Quakers are currently tied for the most wins in the Ivy League this season with Yale. The Bulldogs and Quakers are the only two Ancient Eight squads with records at .500 or better.
*In last year’s Big 5 Tournament, the Quakers went 1-2registering their lone win against La Salle. Genske and sophomore Aimee Stephenson each had 10 kills in a 3-1 win over the Explorers.
Scouting the Big 5...
Villanova (7-3, 0-0 Big East)
Villanova is off to an exceptional start this season, already matching its non-conference win total (7) from a year ago. Most recently, the Wildcats are coming off a 3-1 win over James Madison which capped off a perfect 3-0 weekend at their home invitational. Junior Claire Crutchfield racked up 34 kills over the three-match stretch and earned tournament MVP honors. Sophomore Allie Loitz leads the Wildcats with 133 kills so far this season.
Series History: Penn leads, 24-20
Last Meeting: 9/19/14 - Villanova 3, Penn 0
Temple (7-2, 0-0 AAC)
Temple enters the weekend red hot, picking up wins in seven of its last eight matches. Following a season-opening loss to Oregon, the Owls have dropped just nine sets over their last eight matches and have four sweeps under their belt. Over the weekend, Temple compiled wins over Montana, Binghamton and Duquesne to claim the Hilton Penn's Landing Cherry & White Challenge championship. Sophomore Izzy Rapacz was named the most valuable player of the tournament after hitting .409 over the three matches with 34 kills. Temple is 5-1 at home so far this season.
Series History: Temple leads, 29-13
Last Meeting: 9/20/15 Temple 3, Penn 1
La Salle (5-7, 0-0 A-10)
La Salle is coming off a 3-1 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday night, snapping a three-match losing streak in the process. The Explorers hit .315, their second-highest percentage of the year, in the triumph over the Knights smashing 62 kills on 53 assists. Following a 3-1 beginning to the season, La Salle has just two wins in its last eight matches. Junior Ashley Felton and senior Laura Kuhlmeier have led the offensive attack this year, combining for 203 of the Explorers’ 497 total kills. Freshman setter Taylor Hite is averaging 8.14 assists per set.
Series History: Penn leads, 29-2
Last Meeting: 9/20/14 Penn 3, La Salle 1