PHILADELPHIA - The Quakers look for a share of their second straight Ivy League title on Wednesday when they travel up to Princeton for their final regular season match at 7 p.m.
Penn needs a victory against the Tigers on Wednesday to improve to 12-2 in the Ivy League and draw even with Yale, who concluded its season with a 12-2 league mark after sweeping 3-0 on Saturday. In addition to earning a share of the Ivy title, a win by the Red and Blue would also force a one game playoff with the Bulldogs for the Ancient Eight's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
Last Time Out
The Quakers put themselves in position for a second straight Ivy title with a pair of victories over the weekend. The Red and Blue opened with a tough three-set victory over Harvard, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23. Sophomore Amanda Pacheco led the offense in the match, hitting .400 with 13 kills. One day later against Dartmouth, the Quakers found themselves tied at one set apiece but down in the third 24-22. Penn fought back to tie the set at 24 and eventually took it 28-26. The Red and Blue finished off the Big Green one set later, 25-15. Senior Julia Swanson led the team with 19 kills and 13 digs.
Second Time Around
Penn once again bookends its season with Princeton, after opening Ivy play with the Tigers. In that first match between the two clubs Penn came out the aggressor, winning 26-24 and 25-15 to go up 2-0. The third set was back and forth, leaving the teams tied at 22 apiece. The Tigers staved off defeat by taking three of the set's final four points to win 25-23. The Red and Blue couldn't halt the Princeton momentum, falling 25-19 and 15-9 and dropping the five-set match. Tiger sophomore Lydia Rudnick finished with 26 kills, including 18 in the final three sets, all while hitting .300 for the match.
Penn vs. Princeton History
The Red and Blue have won two of its last three matches over Princeton, in a battle of the league's volleyball heavyweights. Overall, one of the two teams has finished first or second in league play 16 of the last 17 years. They have also accounted for 23 Ancient Eight championships in volleyball's 32 year Ivy history. Princeton has 14 of those championships while Penn has nine, though the Quakers have been more successful recently, with four Ivy championships to the Tigers' two over the past decade.
Scouting the Tigers
Rudnick leads a potent offense which averages 12.75 kills per set. The sophomore's 4.32 kills per set are tops in the Ivy League and she is followed by Cathryn Quinn (2.80) and Jennifer Palmquist (2.26). Defensively, Princeton doesn't have one overpowering blocker, but has three players averaging over .80 blocks pet set in Quinn (.88), Palmquist (.84) and Liz McStravick (.82). In the back, Hilary Ford leads the team with 3.86 digs per set, while CC Lobben is right behind her with 3.41 digs per set. Rudick also contributes on defense with 2.84 digs per set.
Ivy Title on the Line
A victory on Wednesday would give Penn a share of its tenth Ivy League Championship and second straight. The team also went back-to-back when the Quakers won titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The ten titles would be the second most in Ivy history, behind Princeton's 14.
The Kerry Carr Era
A win against Princeton would give head coach Kerry Carr her fifth Ivy title at the helm of the Red and Blue. It would be the most in Penn volleyball history for a coach and the most by any volleyball program in the Ivy League since Carr came to Penn in 1998. Carr's five Ivy titles would also break a tie with head women's lacrosse coach Karen Brower Corbett for the second most of any current head coach at Penn. Head football coach Al Bagnoli is tops on the list after winning his eighth Ivy title over the weekend.
A win on Wednesday would continue a run of unprecedented success in University City this fall. Penn teams have already captured Ivy titles in women's soccer and football, and the sprint football team claimed the CSFL title for the first time in a decade. Men's soccer also played well finishing second in the Ancient Eight and earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Madison Wojciechowski is currently averaging 5.59 digs per set, good for 10th in the nation. As the team the Quakers are also ranked 10th in the country, with 18.12 digs per set. They are one of three Ivy teams in the top 10, along with Yale (1) and Dartmouth (7).
Amanda Pacheco leads the Ivy League in hitting at .354 while freshman Susan Stuecheli is fifth at .287 ... Megan Tryon leads the league averaging 10.64 assists per set ... Madison Wojciechowski leads the Ivies with 5.59 digs per set ... Senior Julia Swanson is fifth in the Ancient Eight at 3.39 kills per set and Lauren Martin is seventh with 2.91 ... Stuecheli is third with 1.00 blocks per set.
Over the weekend, Penn improved to 15-2 when holding opponents to hitting .200 or less. The Quakers' lone losses came in five-set defeats at the hands of Villanova and Princeton. Conversely, the Red and Blue are 0-8 when allowing an opponent to hit over .200.
Can You Dig It?
Wojciechowski recorded double-digit digs in both matches over the weekend, extending her streak of matches with at least ten digs to a school-record 34 matches. Overall she has recorded double-digit digs in 98 of 105 career matches.
The Quakers are averaging 1.8 blocks per set, the team's highest total since averaging 2.52 in 2007. Pacheco's 14 solo blocks are also the most in season since Michelle Kauffman had 15 in 2004. Susan Stuecheli's 1.0 blocks per set are also the highest total since Natalie Drucker averaged 1.14 in 2007.
2K and Beyond
Wojciechowski had 25 digs over the weekend to extend her school and Ivy record for digs in a career to 2,067. This season her 492 digs through 88 sets are already the third highest total in school history, just short of her 2008 mark of 511.
Alone at the Top
Senior Megan Tryon became the program's all-time leader in assists over the weekend, passing former Quaker Heather Glick (3,582). She finished the weekend with 3,652 assists and now owns both the career and single-season (1,328) marks for assists.
Swanson has been a double-double machine for the Quakers during Ivy League play, totaling ten in 13 matches. The senior has 46 career double-doubles and two weeks ago became just the third player in school history with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She currently ranks second in career kills (1,210) and eighth in digs (1,067).