PHILADELPHIA -For the fourth time in the last five meetings between the schools, Penn and Princeton slugged it out over five sets in grueling conditions inside The Palestra on Saturday evening. Unfortunately, the late points that mattered most went to the visitors, and Penn was left at 0-1 in the Ivy League standings after a 28-26, 22-25, 25-14, 23-25, 13-15 defeat. Alex Caldwell managed her third triple-double in the last four matches with 10 kills, 16 assists and 12 digs, while Emma White (13 kills, 23 digs) and Kristen Etterbeek (13 kills, 17 digs) each had double-doubles, tying for the team-high in kills. National digs leader Dani Shepherd supplied 43 more on Saturday, upping her season average to 7.07 per set and reaching the 1,000 digs mark for her career.
The first set belonged to the Quakers as they were able to take advantage of 10 Princeton attack errors in the set. In addition to those freebies, Etterbeek had five kills and Shepherd kept the ball in the air with 12 digs. Despite those heroics, the set would be tied 13 times, including nine times after the score hit 17-17. It wasn't until Lauren Martin threw down back-to-back kills that Penn was able to claim the 28-26 win.
After another Martin kill left the Red and Blue with a 16-13 lead in the second set, it seemed that Penn might be in line to take a 2-0 lead in the match. But Princeton responded when they had to, reeling off seven of the next eight points to take a 20-17 lead. The Quakers would come back to tie the set at 20-20 until two Sarah Hanna kills catapulted the Tigers to the victory in the set, 25-22.
Penn showed just what it was capable of in the third set, storming out to an 8-0 lead and never looking back. Five players had at least two kills for the Quakers, led by White's five on only seven attacks. The cushion would grow to as much as 19-6 as the set moved forward, with a .355 hitting percentage spurring Penn to the 2-1 lead in the match.
That third set proved to be the exception to the rule. Penn and Princeton were evenly matched throughout and the fourth and fifth sets would revert to the rollercoaster ride that had a large, loud Palestra crowd on the edge of their seats. Though the Quakers would promptly go up 8-3 in the early going of the fourth set, Princeton declined to use a timeout and began to reel Penn in on its own accord. The score was soon tied at 9-9 and would swing back and forth until late when it was still knotted, 22-22. A kill from Lydia Rudnick and a block from her and Tiana Woolridge gave the Tigers a set point leading 24-22, and after Caldwell erased one of the two, Rudnick was granted the set-winning kill after a Penn block error.
In the fifth, there was just a little too much from Rudnick for the Quakers to overcome. The Ivy League kills leader had five of her 25 in the fifth set while hitting .417 to provide the Tiger attack with some punch. Late on, kills by Woolridge and Leah Jordan gave Princeton the lead back after the Quakers had tied it up. A Penn attack that sailed wide provided the final nail in the evening as the Tigers took the set and the match, 15-13.
Penn (5-6) will have one last non-conference match to work out the kinks, taking on the Towson Tigers tomorrow at 4 p.m. from The Palestra.
Download: Penn-Princeton Box Score.pdf