The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Volleyball goes 1-2 at Penn

Nieporte, Patmon named to All-Tournament team
Junior+libero+Carson+Grace+Toomer+focuses+on+the+ball.+%0A%28Photo+by+Rick+Smith+for+GoLeopards%29
Junior libero Carson Grace Toomer focuses on the ball. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

Last weekend, the women’s volleyball team traveled to the UPenn Tournament, facing off against the Coppin State Bald Eagles once and the University of Pennsylvania Quakers twice after Duquesne withdrew from the tournament. The Leopards went 1-2, losing both matches on Friday and winning their rematch against Penn on Saturday.

Junior outside hitter Abby Nieporte and first-year outside hitter Emma Patmon were both selected to the Penn All-Tournament team. Nieporte notched 19.5 points with 16 kills, and Patmon tallied 18.5 points with 17 kills, including a double-double in the team’s second game against Penn with 14 kills and 14 digs.

Coming into the first match against Coppin State, the Leopards held a season record of 2-2, while the Bald Eagles stood at 6-1. The Maroon and White abruptly took the lead, going up 2-0, but the Leopards struggled from there, losing the first set 25-20. 

Coppin State followed its first set win with more dominant performances — Lafayette’s opening match of the tournament ended in a sweep, as the Bald Eagles went on to win the final set 25-18. 

Senior middle blocker Grace Gibson noted that the team was “very flat and scared to make mistakes.”

“Everyone was playing not to lose instead of playing to win,” Gibson said. “When you are playing not to lose, you play it safe and never really take big swings or want the ball to come to you. Playing scared results in more mistakes, then it’s just a cycle.”

The Leopards continued by playing the Penn Quakers later that afternoon. The Quaker offense had no trouble maintaining its control, capturing the first set 25-18. Despite four ties and two lead changes in the second set, Penn won 25-20 and then closed out the match 25-17 in the third set.

“The first two games we played very timidly and made a bunch of errors which dug us a hole, especially missing a lot of serves which is normally one of our strengths,” Nieporte said. “Overall we didn’t play as aggressively as we normally do and let the other teams take control of the match.”

The Leopards finally broke through in their final match of the tournament, hanging on to win the rematch against Penn.

After a close first set, Penn ultimately prevailed, winning 25-20. The second set consisted of electric play from both sides of the net. The score was all tied up prior to the Leopards going on a 4-0 tear. Ultra-competitive play was a catalyst for both teams battling for match point towards the end of the set. Gibson delivered the final kill of the set before an attack error on behalf of the Quakers led to the Leopards conquering the set 28-26.

The Maroon and White retained this positive energy as they dove into the third set. The Leopards catapulted to an 8-1 lead due to a pair of aces from first-year setter Anna Van Wyk and a few costly blunders on the part of Penn. The Leopards continued their momentum, taking the third set 25-19. 

Nieporte attributed this turnaround to “[focusing] more on our side of the net, controlling things that we could such as our energy and effort.”

“We realized that they weren’t putting up the best block so we really challenged that. Spreading our offense and taking advantage of the block made us super successful,” Nieporte said.

The Maroon and White trailed for part of the fourth set but were able to bring the match to a draw at 22 apiece. Penn outside hitter Zada Sanger and Patmon went back and forth recording kills and an attack error from Penn resulted in a final score of 25-24 in favor of Lafayette. Nieporte rounded out the match with a kill to take the team’s third victory of the season. 

Nieporte was impressed with the final game of the tournament and feels fairly optimistic about the team’s future.

“I think this is only the start of some really competitive volleyball for us and we just have to remember to play relaxed but also super aggressive,” Nieporte said. “Every member on our team is more than capable of contributing for us, so having a deep bench helps a lot.”

The Leopards also pulled out a win against NJIT in their final out-of-conference game Wednesday night, winning in three sets.

The Maroon and White will start off their Patriot League season tonight against Holy Cross at home. 

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Luke Gutleber, Staff Sports Writer

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