Penn Wins 3-2 in Thrilling Ivy Playoff, Advances to the NCAA Tournament
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- In a true match between champions, and with the 2010 NCAA Championship automatic berth on the line, Penn took the early advantage and held off a Yale surge later to claim a 25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 17-25, 15-8 win Sunday at the John. J. Lee Amphitheater.
The Bulldogs close out the season 18-8 overall along with their fourth all-time Ivy League title. The Quakers, who will advance to the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive year, improve to 17-10 overall after earning their 10th Ivy title. Penn will await the NCAA selection show, airing at 3 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Nov. 28, to find out where they will be placed in the 64-member bracket.
Yale came out of the gates on fire, taking an early 11-2 lead and forcing Penn head coach Kerry Carr to use her two timeouts early. But regathering her squad worked, as the Quakers battled back with five consecutive points, forcing a Bulldog timeout. Penn tied the set at 13-13 and took it's first lead, 16-15 on an attach error by Yale's Kendall Polan. Completing the e, Penn finished off the Bulldogs with a 25-18 victory.
Continuing to put the pressure on the home team in the second set, Penn built a 15-6 lead on back-to-back kills by Lauren Martin. Yale scored four straight points, cutting the Quaker lead to 15-10, and later came within two at 16-14, but Penn pushed the spread back to six, 21-16. A pair of kills by Julia Swanson and an attack error by Yale's Bridget Hearst, closed out the set, 25-18, giving the Quakers a 2-0 advantage.
Two straight kills by Penn's Amanda Pacheco put the Quakers up 11-7 early in the third set, forcing a Yale timeout. But the Bulldogs responded out of the huddle with a powerful kill by Hearst to snap Penn's four-point rally. Four straight points by the Bulldogs knotted the score at 12. After a service error by Yale's Katie Cordell tied the set again, 23-23, back-to-back kills by Polan kept the Bulldogs alive with a third-set win, 25-23.
Taking the momentum swing from the third set into the fourth, the Bulldogs broke open a back-and-forth set to take a 21-14 lead down the stretch. After trading points to make it 22-15, a pair of Quaker attack errors made it 24-15. Penn held off set point twice before Swanson's serve went short into the net to force the fifth and deciding set.
Tied 3-3 in the fifth set, back-to-back kills by Pacheco put Penn up 5-3 early and led to a Yale timeout. Out of the break, Penn tallied its third straight point on a Kristen Etterbeek kill and another kill by Pacheco put the Quakers up 8-4.
Yale finally broke the four-point Penn streak with a kill by Haley Wessels, but Swanson and Etterbeck answered with a block. Pacheco put down her fourth kill of the set to make it 11-6 Quakers and three points later a block by Susan Stuecheli made it 13-7. An attack error by Martin gave the Bulldogs a moment of hope, but Martin came back with her 22nd kill of the match and a block by Stuecheli and Etterbeck on match point sent the Quakers into the NCAA Tournament.
Martin led Penn with 22 kills, tying a career-high for the sophomore. Pacheco, who came up huge in the deciding set, finished with 11 kills and three block assists, while Swanson tallied her 17th double-double, finishing with 10 kills and 21 digs. Stuecheli, the Quakers' rookie middle blocker finished with a match-high seven blocks, including three solos, and nine kills.
Yale was led by Hearst's 18 kills while Ivy League Rookie of the Year Kendall Polan missed her second triple-double of the year by one kill, tallying nine kills, 30 assists and 17 digs. Kelly Ozurovich recorded a match-high 32 digs.
The Quakers will take a short break for Thanksgiving before regrouping to catch the NCAA Selection Show live on ESPNews, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Nov. 28.