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Penn Volleyball Clinches Share of Ivy Title

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


PHILADELPHIA The Penn women's volleyball team fought back from a 2-0 deficit to take the final three sets and win their 20th match of the season. The win, coupled with Yale's loss to Dartmouth, gives Penn a share of the 2009 Ivy League title.

Penn dropped the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-21 but avoided elimination with a 25-23 win in the third set. The Red and Blue continued its momentum, taking the fourth set 25-21 and then clinched it with a 15-12 victory in the final set.

The win guaranteed at least a share of the Ivy League crown, as Yale lost 3-1 to Dartmouth, putting Penn ahead of the Bulldogs by three matches with three left to play. One more Quaker win will give Penn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2003. The victory also gives the Red and Blue (20-4) its first 20-win season in six years.

Senior Elizabeth Semmens had a career-high 25 digs to go along with 17 kills, while junior Julia Swanson led the team with 19 kills and also added 18 digs.

On their senior day, the Big Red came out fired up, as they jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Penn responded with a 6-1 run to tie it at eight, however that would be as close as the Quakers would get. Cornell slowly expanded its lead once again, going up 19-13, before another Penn run brought the deficit back to one at 19-18. Unable to tie, the Red and Blue got within one again at 22-21, however a Penn service error and attack error gave the Big Red a 24-21 lead. They held on take the set 25-22.

The second set was much of the same for the Quakers, falling behind 5-0 and then 12-4 before head coach Kerry Carr called a timeout. Senior Ashley Hawkins had a kill following the break, however, four consecutive points by the Big Red game them a 16-5 advantage. Cornell pushed its lead to 22-11 before a furious Quaker rally brought the team back within three at 24-21. It wasn't enough as they lost 25-21.

The Big Red came out in the third set intent on an upset, going up 10-6. Penn got back within one at 14-13, but was unable to take the lead. The teams traded points until a Quaker attack error gave Cornell the 23-20 lead. Swanson closed the gap to two and sparked at 5-0 run which ended the set 25-23.

Despite the third set loss, the Big Red opened up a 5-2 lead early. Penn tied it up at eight and the two teams traded points for much of the set, until a 3-0 run by the Red and Blue provided at 19-16 advantage. The Quakers wouldn't trail for the remainder of the set, taking it 25-21.

Penn showed why it is unbeaten in fifth sets this year, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the final stanza. Cornell didn't go quietly, going on a 10-5 run to cut the Quaker margin to one. A kill by Swanson pushed the lead to two before Cornell's Pula Deveney made it a one point game, 12-11. The Red and Blue didn't lose composure, as freshman Lauren Martin's two kills put Penn on the verge of victory and a kill by Semmens captured the set 15-12.

Junior setter Megan Tryon matched a career high with 62 assists, the sixth-best total in school history, and also added seven digs.

The Quakers -- who ran their winning streak to an impressive 11 games --seek to remain perfect in conference play and clinch the Ivy League title outright next weekend when they host Harvard Friday night at 7 p.m.