PHILADELPHIA - Looking to build upon its two wins on Sunday at the D.C. Classic, the University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will host the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Invitational this weekend at The Palestra. Fairfield, Delaware State, Towson and Binghamton will join the Quakers for the annual event. Penn will take on the Stags at 7 p.m. on Friday night, followed by matchups with Delaware State (10:30 a.m.) and Towson (7:30 p.m.) on Saturday. All of Penn’s matches will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
2015 Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West Invitational Schedule
Penn vs. Fairfield - 7:00 p.m.
Penn vs. Delaware State – 10:30 a.m.
Fairfield vs. Towson – 1:00 p.m.
Delaware State vs. Fairfield – 4:30 p.m.
Penn vs. Towson – 7:30 p.m.
Binghamton vs. Towson – 2:00 p.m.
Opening Weekend... The Quakers opened the 2015 campaign last weekend at the D.C. Classic in Washington D.C. on Saturday and College Park, Md. on Sunday. Penn dropped its first two contests of the season to Maryland and George Mason on Saturday, both by 3-2 deficits. Penn bounced back on Sunday, picking up a 3-2 triumph over Western Carolina and a 3-0 sweep of Howard. Senior Alexis Genske led the way offensively with 54 kills (3.0/set) over the four matches and was named to the all-tournament team for her efforts. Fellow senior Michellie McDonald-O’Brien also put together a stellar opening weekend, ranking second on the team with 36 kills and hitting a team-high .382. In addition to the senior duo, Penn showed tremendous depth with 15 Quakers seeing action over the weekend - 13 of which posted at least one kill.
Newcomers...Included in the 15 players that checked in over the weekend were freshmen Courtney Quinn, Taylor Cooper, Brooke Behrbaum and Grace James. Quinn logged the most sets of the trio and ranked third on the team with 26 kills. She also added 35 digs over 18 sets. Cooper made an impact blocking the ball, racking up a team-high 11 blocks in just five sets.
Flair for the Dramatic...After playing just four five-set matches all of last season, the Quakers went the distance in three of their first four contests last weekend (Maryland, George Mason, Western Carolina). The Quakers were 1-3 in such matches last season and are 1-2 so far this year.
Last Year’s Invitational...Penn’s season opened last year at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, as the Quakers picked up 3-0 wins over Colgate and Cleveland State before falling to Georgetown in the weekend’s finale. Genske and classmate Alex Caldwell earned all-tournament accolades, combining to register 49 kills and 57 digs. Caldwell also dished out 56 assists.
Home Opener...Friday night will signify Penn’s first home contest of the 2015 season. The Quakers are 11-1 in their last 12 home openers and are 13-4 during Coach Carr’s tenure.
Scouting the Field...
Fairfield (3-3, 0-0 MAAC)
Fairfield has split its opening six matches of the 2015 season, grabbing victories over NJIT, Holy Cross and Boston College. The Stags have been led by reigning MAAC Player of the Week, Megan Theiller, who is currently averaging 3.68 kills per set with a .256 hitting percentage. Fairfield’s losses this season have come at the hands of Central Connecticut State, New Hampshire and Bucknell. Fairfield is just two years removed from winning back-to-back MAAC Championships in 2012 and 2013.
Series History: Penn leads the all-time series against Fairfield by a mark of 3-1. The Quakers and Stags last met exactly five years ago (9/11/10) at the Terrapin Invitational in College Park, Md. In a year in which the Quakers went on to capture their second consecutive Ivy League championship, the Quakers earned a 3-0 victory in that matchup.
Delaware State (2-5, 0-0 MEAC)
Delaware State is coming off its second victory of the season, a 3-1 win over Quinnipiac on Saturday. Nevershi Ellis and Jasmine Jackson each tallied double-figure kills and digs in the victory. Jackson leads the Hornets this season in averaging 3.0 kills per set. DSU’s other bright spot this year came in the form of a 3-2 win over North Carolina A&T last Friday. Jackson shined against the Aggies as well, smashing 17 kills and posting 11 digs.
Series History: Penn and Delaware State have never met.
Towson (7-1, 0-0 CAA)
Towson is off to a red-hot start to 2015 and is currently riding a seven-match winning streak. Following a season-opening, five-set loss to Tennessee, the Tigers have rattled off wins over Manhattan, Saint Francis University, Delaware State, Coppin State, North Dakota State, Milwaukee and Utah Valley. Towson has dropped just four sets during the seven-game stretch. Reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Week, Haley Pa’akaula, has been excellent so far this season - leading her squad with 109 kills. The senior currently ranks third in the CAA in kills per set (3.63) and eighth in hitting percentage (.293).
Series History: Penn leads the all-time series against the Tigers, 5-2. The last meeting between these two clubs came in 2012, when Towson escaped The Palestra with a 3-2 victory. All five of Penn’s current seniors (then freshmen) saw action in that contest. Genske and Jasmine DeSilva led the way with 11 and 12 kills, respectively.
Binghamton (1-6, 0-0 America East)
Binghamton enters the weekend with a 1-6 record so far this season – the lone win coming against Stetson on August 29. The Bearcats have had a couple of close calls, as they held 2-1 leads in a pair of five-set losses to Central Michigan and Bethune Cookman.