PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania volleyball team will wrap up its season this weekend, traveling to take on Columbia on Friday (7 p.m.) and Cornell (5 p.m.) on Saturday. Both matches will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
The Quakers (11-13, 5-7) are coming off a split over the weekend in their final two home matches of the season. The Red and Blue picked up a 3-0 win over Brown on Friday night, followed by a 3-1 loss to Yale the following day. It was the second four-set loss to the Bulldogs this season, while Penn and Brown split a pair of matchups this year.
Playing in the final two home contests of their careers, Penn’s five seniors certainly rose to the occasion last weekend. Against the Bears, Alexis Genske and Michellie McDonald-O’Brien racked up a combined 25 kills. Genske also chipped in 16 digs to post her 10th double-double of the season.
Fellow captains, Jasmine DeSilva and Alex Caldwell, totaled 11 kills of their own -- while Ronnie Bither dished out 36 assists.
It was more of the same on Saturday, as the five seniors combined for all but three of Penn’s total kills. Genske (12), McDonald-O’Brien (12), Caldwell (11), and DeSilva (10) all reached double digits, while Bither totaled five kills, 15 digs and 36 assists. Bither is currently the only player in the Ivy League that is averaging over nine assists per set (9.28). She also ranks seventh in the conference in digs per set (3.55) in league play.
In addition to Bither, Genske and sophomore Michelle Pereira also rank in the top five of their respective statistical categories. Genske is slotted third in the Ivy League in total kills (269), and Pereira ranks fourth in digs per set (4.23).
Scouting the Lions
Columbia (7-14, 5-7) enters Friday night on a two-match skid, after falling to Harvard (3-0) and Dartmouth (3-1) on the road last weekend. The Lions struggled to get the offense going, hitting .008 against Harvard and .078 versus Dartmouth.
Zoe Jacobs has paced the attack for the Lions this season, racking up a team-high 204 kills. Katarina Jovicic has also put together a standout season, ranking third in the Ivy League in hitting percentage (.319). Defensively, Cassie Wes is tops in the conference in digs per set with 4.91.
Columbia defeated Penn, 3-1, earlier this season at The Palestra. Genske put together one of her best matches of the season in the loss, registering 16 kills and 17 digs. Bither also recorded a double-double with 34 assists and 10 digs.
For Columbia, Jacobs picked up a team-high 17 kills and a pair of blocks while Bailey Springer added nine kills. Jennifer Petrovich put forth 42 assists and 10 digs.
Penn leads, 51-6.
Scouting the Big Red
Cornell (6-16, 2-12) also dropped matches to Harvard and Dartmouth over the weekend, falling 3-0 in both contests. Macey Wilson led the way against the Crimson with eight kills, while Carla Sganderlla put up a team-high nine against Dartmouth.
Alyssa Phelps is the only member of the Cornell squad that ranks in the top five of any statistical category in the Ivy League. Phelps is slotted fifth with an average of 7.18 assists per set. In addition, she also has 88 kills and 142 digs to her name.
Cornell will honor its lone senior, Brittany Kalepa, on Saturday in the season finale for both teams.
Led by a 16-kill, 12-dig performance from Genske, Penn defeated Cornell by a score of 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 25-19, 28-26) on October 9. Caldwell and McDonald-O’Brien were also stellar in the victory, combining for 18 kills. Caldwell hit a team-high .391 for the match, making just one error on the night.
Quakers lead, 44-23.