Volleyball Ventures Out for First Ivy League Trip

PHILADELPHIA - The Penn volleyball team will try to bounce back after a pair of tough, five-set losses last weekend to Princeton and Towson. The Quakers (5-7, 0-1 Ivy) take on Dartmouth on Friday night at 7 p.m., and turn around the next day with a 5 p.m. meeting at Harvard. The two opposing sides met last weekend to open their Ivy League seasons, the Big Green rallying from a 2-1 deficit to claim a 3-2 win over the Crimson.

Last Time Out
Following a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over Delaware to start the week off on the right foot, Penn stumbled over the weekend with a pair of five-set losses to Princeton and Towson. Dani Shepherd set a school record with 46 digs against the Blue Hens on Wednesday night and Alex Caldwell had a pair of triple-doubles to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors. As evidence of the many offensive weapons there are on the roster, five players either led or tied for the team lead in kills in the three matches. Caldwell and Amanda Pacheco each had 15 kills against Delaware, and Emma White and Kristen Etterbeek tied for the team high with 13 kills in the Princeton match. A new-look Penn line-up was led by Alexis Genske on Sunday, who had 12 kills in the narrow loss.

Scouting the Big Green
Non-conference play has the ability to skew some numbers early on in the season, but the trends do not favor Dartmouth. The Big Green rank last in the Ivy League in hitting percentage, opponents' hitting percentage, kills, assists and blocks. Sophomore Alex Schoenberger leads the team with 2.62 kills per set, while Paige Caridi trails right behind at 2.53. Elisa Scudder is the best hitter on the team based on hitting percentage, coming in at a .327 clip which good for 10th in the Ivies. Kayden Cook handles setting duties for Dartmouth, averaging 7.62 assists per set. She is also among the leaders in digs on the team with 1.90 per set. Only Vivian Snider (2.97) and Caridi (2.40) average more.

Scouting the Crimson
After a mid-week win over Holy Cross, Harvard enters the weekend at 3-9 with all three wins coming at home. Taylor Docter parlayed a big offensive week in which she averaged nearly four kills per set into a team-leading 3.00 kills per set average. Caroline Walters ranks fourth in the Ivy League with a .380 hitting percentage, while as a team, the Crimson are in a three-way tie at the top with Yale and Columbia with a hitting percentage of .216. Setting duties are split between Beth Kinsella (5.43 assists per set) and Hannah Schmidt (4.60). Kristen Casey leads the back line of defense, averaging 3.51 digs per set, while up front, Walters ranks sixth in the Ivies with an average of 1.00 block per set, just behind Penn's Susan Stuecheli.

Topping the Charts
Penn is holding steady this week atop the Division I digs leaderboard. The Quakers average a whopping 21.88 digs per set, leading second place Mercer by nearly three digs per set (19.00). Shepherd is the biggest reason for that - pacing all individuals in the country with her 6.61 digs per set average - but she has plenty of help from the likes of White (4.88), Etterbeek (3.71) and Ronnie Bither (3.15). In fact, White is second in the Ivy League only to Shepherd in that category.

Tonight's Top Ten List
After her big defensive performances last week, Shepherd surpassed the 1,000 mark for digs in her time at Penn. Now at 1,037 in her career, she ranks ninth in program history ahead of Fu-Chin Lee (1,013 from 1983-86). In her sights this weekend is Meredith Damore (1,069 digs from 2003-06) and Meghan Schloat (1,077 from 2000-03). Also poised to break into the top 10 is senior Lauren Martin. Martin is at 902 kills for her career and needs 21 more to tie Heather Janssen (2000-03) for tenth place on Penn's all-time list.

Video/Live Stats
Good news for subscribers to the Penn Sports Network; if you already have an account with PSN, Friday night's match at Dartmouth is available for no extra charge! Just log in to view the streaming video as you normally would and look for the link that reads "Volleyball vs. Penn." Live stats of Friday night's match will also be available on PennAthletics.com by clicking here. Saturday's Harvard match will be streamed here for a one-match fee of $9.95. Finally, live stats from Cambridge can be viewed here.