Dec. 5, 2009

Courtesy of Penn

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - History was made Friday night as the Penn volleyball team hit .313 over the final three sets to clinch a 3-1 victory over Army in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State.

Penn won by scores of 18-25, 25-20, 25-18 and 25-16 to take the match in four sets -- the first NCAA win in program history. The Quakers got an excellent performance from 2009 Ivy Player of the Year Elizabeth Semmens, as the senior hit .308 with 22 kills and 14 digs. Junior Madison Wojciechowski led the defense, and was one of four players with double-digit digs as she totaled a match-high 28.

With the win, Penn advances to Saturday's second-round and a meeting with the tournament's No. 1 seed, Penn State. The Nittany Lions downed Binghamton, 3-0, improving their record this season to 33-0 and extending their NCAA-record win streak to 97 matches. This season, PSU has lost five sets.

First serve will be 7:30 p.m. at Rec Hall.

Head Coach Kerry Carr was pleased with her team's performance.

"We're just super excited to be part of the first team in University of Pennsylvania history to go past the first round," she said. "It's just a huge step for our program, and we've worked so hard to get here and then not only to get here, but to go beyond the first step."

To go past the first step, Penn relied on a defense which has been their backbone this season. Wojciechowski led the team in digs, but junior Julia Swanson wasn't far behind as she totaled 17. Senior Mary Russell and Semmens each had 14 apiece. Britt Danemann was a force at the net with three total blocks and also got her hands on numerous balls which fell into the hands of the back row for digs.

In the first set it was Army who looked the most relaxed, as the Black Knights hit .282 and committed just one attack error. Penn, meanwhile, had seven errors and hit just .140. Not surprisingly, the Red and Blue dropped the set 25-18.

Penn came back refocused in the second set, jumping out to an 11-5 lead. The Black Knights got back within five at 16-11 and cut then lead to three, 19-16. However, the Red and Blue shut the door as an Army attack error and consecutive kills by Danneman made it 22-16. Penn took the set 25-20.

The Quakers continued their momentum in the third set, opening up a 9-6 lead. The Black Knights came back to get within two at 13-11, but it wouldn't be enough. A Semmens kill sparked an 8-1 run putting Penn on top 21-12. The two teams traded points the rest of the way, with the Red and Blue winning 25-18.

In the final set, Penn gave the Black Knights all they could handle, scoring eight of the first 11 points of the set. However, Army battled back to tie it at 13 apiece. Consecutive attack errors by the Black Knights gave Penn the last lead they would need, and the Red and Blue went on a 10-3 run to close the match 25-16.

Junior Megan Tryon's 54 assists helped the Penn attack to 60 kills; she added eight digs and a service ace in the victory. Senior Ashley Hawkins and freshman Lauren Martin each had 11 kills.

The win improves Penn's record to 23-5, giving the Quakers the most wins in a season during the Carr era. Army ends its 2009 campaign with a 26-6 mark.

Postgame Notes:
Tryon's 54 assists give her 1,298 on the season, breaking the single-season school record of 1,274, set in 2003 by Meghan Schloat ... Semmens now has seven straight matches with 10+ kills and has at least 22 in three of her last four ... The 86 digs was the third highest total in a four-set match of Penn this season ... Wojciechowski has at least 20 digs in each of her last five matches and is averaging 6.27 digs per set over that stretch ... The Quakers committed just ten errors over their final three sets of the match ... Penn has held each of its last 16 opponents to a hitting percentage under .210 ... Penn's victory in the NCAA Tournament was the first in school history.