COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A day after dropping a pair of hard-fought five setters, the Penn volleyball team flipped the script on Sunday by recording two wins on day two of the D.C. Classic at the XFinity Pavilion. The Quakers notched a 3-2 win over Western Carolina to begin the day and followed with a 3-0 triumph over Howard. Penn is now 2-2 on the season.
Senior Alexis Genske was named to the All-Tournament Team after leading Penn with 54 kills over the weekend. She also ranked second on the team with 46 digs.
Game No. 1 – Penn 3, Western Carolina 2
Genske and freshman Courtney Quinn each posted double-doubles in the victory over the Catamounts, while sophomore Kendall Covington notched a team-high 14 kills and .407 hitting percentage. Genske, Quinn and senior Michellie McDonald-O’Brien all registered 12 kills and senior Ronnie Bither and freshman Grace James dished 23 assists apiece.
Jo-Leigh Vervelde led the way for Western Carolina, tallying a triple-double with 12 kills, 24 assists and 11 digs. Cristina Nazario also recorded 11 digs, to go along with 22 assists.
McDonald-O’Brien put Penn on the board in the first set - tying the game at one - but it was the Catamounts that surged out to an early 10-5 lead. Western Carolina maintained the five-point lead throughout much of the first set but could not close the door on the Quakers. Trailing 24-19 and facing five set points, the Quakers rattled off the final seven points of the opening game. James recorded her first career kill to bring the Quakers within three at 24-21. She then followed with another kill to give Penn its first lead of the first set at 25-24. Quinn put an exclamation point on the comeback with a kill to seal the win. Eight different players recorded at least one kill in the first set for the Quakers.
It was a different story in game two for Penn as Western Carolina climbed out to the early lead and never relinquished. Katie O’Connor racked up five kills in the set, while Vervelde kills provided leads of 14-10 and then 17-11. Quakers put together just six kills in the second stanza and made 10 errors.
The third set began with the Catamounts jumping out to a 5-1 lead. Western Carolina extended that edge to 10-4 following a Savannah Kohlhagan kill. The Quakers, however, hung around throughout the third set, with Genske bringing them within three at 18-15. That would be as close as Penn would get though as Western Carolina closed the game on a 7-3 run to shut the door, 25-18. Covington had five kills in the game.
Back and forth action kick-started the fourth set with McDonald-O’Brien notching a kill to tie the score at five-all. The score would then be tied at seven and again at 15 before McDonald-O’Brien recorded her third kill of the set to lift Penn to a 16-15 lead, an edge the Quakers would not relinquish. Quinn posted her fourth kill of the stanza to provide Penn a 22-19 lead and the Quakers would go on take the fourth set by a score of 25-21. Quinn, McDonald-O’Brien and Genske all had four kills in the set.
The Quakers stormed out to a 6-1 lead in the fifth and final set, beginning with Quinn and McDonald-O’Brien hammering back-to-back kills. Senior Alex Caldwell also got in on the action, giving Penn a 6-1 edge. The Catamounts put together their final run of the match to tie the game at eight-all. From there, it was all Penn, as the Quakers tallied seven of the last eight points of the match. McDonald-O’Brien had three kills in the final stanza and capped off the victory with a kill at 15-9.
Game No. 2 – Penn 3, Howard 0
The Quakers hit a season-high .360 on the way to recording their first sweep of the season. Penn showed a versatile attack with nine different players recording at least one kill in the victory. Senior Jasmine DeSilva led the way offensively with 11 kills, while Genske racked up eight kills and 10 digs. Quinn, fellow freshman Brooke Behrbaum and sophomore Hayley Molnar each chipped in four kills.
Howard jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set and led for the majority of the opener. The Quakers started to chip away as DeSilva and Behrbaum posted back-to-back kills to bring Penn within two. The Quakers would hang around long enough to eventually take an 18-17 lead. Freshman Taylor Cooper came up clutch down the stretch with several key blocks, including on set point. Bither was also pivotal in the final moments, producing two service aces to give Penn 21-19 and 23-19 leads.
The Quakers had to put in overtime to put away Howard in the second set. The Bison staved off six set points before Penn was finally able to close the door. Quinn recorded back-to-back kills to seal the victory, 30-28.
Riding high off the thrilling second-set victory, Quakers soared out to a 10-3 lead in the final frame and never looked back. DeSilva, who had six kills in the third set, nailed back-to-back kills to extend the lead to 21-12. As a team, Penn compiled a .583 hitting percentage on the way to a 25-15 win.