PHILADELPHIA - The Penn Volleyball team has been the class of the Ivy League in recent years, winning back-to-back league titles in 2009 and 2010 with a combined league record of 25-3 during that span. The Quakers have also made two straight NCAA Championship appearances and earned the school's first postseason victory in 2009. The team appears poised to continue the dominance into 2011, as head coach Kerry Carr brings in a strong recruiting class to an already talented roster.
Carr once again went across the country to put together a diverse recruiting class to supplant the six seniors she lost to graduation. The group of seven incoming freshman hail from five states and is made up of: Meghan Connolly, Elizabeth Horner, Trina Ohms, Kristina Pelekoudas, Taylor Smith, Kendall Turner and Emma White.
A 5-9 setter, Connolly hails from Atlanta and comes from one the top volleyball programs in the state of Georgia. Her team at the Marist School reached the George AAAA state semifinals in each of her final three years, including 2008 and 2009 appearances in the state championship game. As a junior, she was named to the Georgia High School Association AAAA All-State team and was also named a GVCA senior all-star. She plays for the A5 Mizuno club team as well. Connolly also boasts a strong connection to Penn, as her father and grandfather are both alumni.
Elizabeth Horner is the lone Pennsylvanian and comes to the Quakers from State College. As a 6-2 outside hitter, she led her team to a No. 3 ranking in the AAA Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Poll during the 2010 season and was named All-District 6, All-Independence League and All-State as a senior. As a freshman, Horner was named All-District 6 and All-Independence League and helped her team to a district and regional championship. In the offseason, she was invited to the 2006-07 USA Volleyball Girls Select Holiday National Training camps in Colorado Springs. Horner also plays for the Revolution club volleyball team.
Hailing from Palo Alto high school, the 5-11 Trina Ohms served as her team's outside hitter on their way to the California I State Championship in 2010. The team went 41-1 en route to winning a SCVAL League championship, Central Coast Section Championship, NorCal Championship and state championship. Palo Alto also finished the season ranked second in the nation according to MaxPreps.com. She was named First-team All-SCVAL and Palo Alto Daily News for her efforts. Ohms also plays for Vision Volleyball Club and was part of the team which finished third at the junior national championships in the 2010 open division.
Kristina Pelekoudas is also a California product, coming from University high school. The 5-11 setter and right side hitter was named First-team All-Pacific Coast League and All-City (Irvine) as a junior and senior. She was named the team's MVP after her final season also served as one of the team's captains as a junior and senior. Pelekoudas plays for the Orange Country Volleyball Club and her team recorded a top-10 finish at the Junior National Tournament in the 18-open division.
Keeping Penn's Texas contingent at two, Taylor Smith enters Penn from Lake Travis high school. As a 6-1 middle blocker, she helped her team to the Texas 4A state championship in 2010. The team was also recognized as the 18th best team in the country according to MaxPreps.com. She was a first-team all-district selection as a junior and was named a member of the second team as a senior and sophomore. Lake Travis also made a run in 2008, finishing as Texas 4A semifinalists. Smith was a three-time academic all-state selection and plays for the Austin Juniors Volleyball 18 Mizuno club team.
A 6-0 middle blocker, Kendall Turner hails from Colorado. Playing for Mountain Vista, she helped her team to league and district championships in 2008 and was named second-team All-Continental League. Turner repeated that same honor as a senior, after being named honorable mention as a junior. As a senior, she served as team captain and was named academic all-state. Turner played for the Colorado Juniors club team as well.
The Quakers' third California recruit, Emma White, comes from Mira Costa high school. A 5-11 outside hitter, she was named the Bay League's Most Outstanding Player as a senior and also honored as a member of the All-CIF team. Overall, she was a three-time All-Area and All-Bay selection during her career, winning three Bay League Championships in the process. As a sophomore, her team also finished second in CIF Division I. White plays for the Sunshine Volleyball Club, the same club which produced Penn graduating senior standout Madison Wojciechowski, as well as current defensive specialist, Dani Shepherd.
"Overall, we are pleased with our recruiting class and feel they can make an immediate impact on the program, said Carr. "When you graduate so many award-winning, four-year senior starters such as Penn did this year, your incoming class needs to be talent-rich. Fortunately, I do believe these incoming recruits will not only complete our team, but join a team already composed of hard-working, talented returning players making huge strides in the spring season. I am so excited for next fall as all of our players, both incoming and returning, are making sure they are ready to defend the Ivy League title with their tenacity and team chemistry!"