PHILADELPHIA – The Penn volleyball team has been hard at work in the off-season, and will get a chance to put those efforts on display this Saturday as the Quakers welcome in North Carolina and Penn State to The Palestra for a day of drills and match scenarios. The event is open to the public and admission is free.
The three schools will be on the court from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. with approximately an hour break in the early afternoon for lunch. Throughout the day, the players will take part in a variety of six-on-six drills that will mix and match players from all three squads together, as well as matches that will feature the teams going against each other in a more traditional team structure.
“It’s really exciting to host one of last season’s Final Four teams, Penn State, in our gym,” said The Kenneth L. Gross Head Coach of Volleyball Kerry Carr. “We’re also excited to have North Carolina Head Coach Joe Sagula return home to The Palestra, where he started the Penn Ivy League Championship dynasty.”
Penn State entered last season’s NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and advanced to the Final Four in Louisville, Ky. before falling to Oregon in a national semifinal, ending the season at 33-3 overall. Under Head Coach Russ Rose, the Nittany Lions have had an unprecedented run of success, winning at least 22 matches every season in his 33 years at the helm and collecting four consecutive NCAA titles from 2007-2010.
Under the direction of Sagula for the past 22 seasons, North Carolina has established a winning tradition of its own in the ACC. The Tar Heels have won 11 conference titles, the most of any program in the league, with five coming under the direction of the former Penn head coach. Before going to Chapel Hill, Sagula won three Ivy League titles (1983, 1986 and 1989) and had five seasons with at least 20 wins. With 203 victories in nine seasons at Penn, he was the all-time program record holder in the category until Carr overtook him in 2010. Last season, UNC advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament before losing a tough five-set match to Iowa State in Ames to end the year at 26-6.
For Carr and the Quakers, the takeaway from this weekend will go well beyond simply playing with and against their accomplished counterparts. It’s a way to face a different style of opponent than what they often see throughout the non-conference and Ivy League seasons. “Whenever you can share ideas and systems with different coaches, everyone gets better,” Carr continued. “I know that the girls are excited to play both of these teams in our spring season, where we have had so much individual and team improvement!”