Several Penn teams involved in the GLSEN Project

In this in-depth piece on the culture of coming out for LGBT Penn athletes, I examine what Penn Athletics has and hasn't done for the Quakers' LGBT athletic community.

But five varsity programs have stepped up for that community with the Team Respect Pledge put forth by the GLSEN Sports Project, an education and advocacy program focused on addressing LGBT issues in K-12 school-based athletic and physical education programs. Those Penn programs are volleyball, women's tennis, men's tennis, women's soccer and men's soccer.

And the Team Respect Pledge reads as follows:

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Weekend Wrap: On the road at Princeton

While football may have had the most dramatic finish in Princeton over the weekend, it was not the only Penn squad to take on the Tigers. Check Weekend Wrap for a review of the Quakers' performances in other arenas, including a few squads that finished their seasons against Princeton.

Field Hockey
Even in a strong year for Penn field hockey, the Red and Blue were not likely to fair well against No. 2 Princeton. The Tigers outscored their Ivy opponents 45-1 on the year and recorded six league wins by a margin of five goals or more. With this in mind, Quakers’ 7-0 defeat should not come as a surprise to anyone. Princeton’s victory secured its eighth consecutive league title.

That said, Penn (9-8, 3-4 Ivy) can certainly celebrate finishing above .500 for the first time since 2006 — one of several indications that this program is on the rise.

Men's Soccer
Despite holding off the Tigers for the first half an hour of play, the Penn men’s soccer team collapsed once again in a 3-0 loss at Princeton. With a last-place finish on the horizon, the Quakers (2-13, 0-6 Ivy) should start the rebuilding process now and start thinking about how the team can change its fortunes for next season.

Women's Soccer
As Penn women’s soccer coach Darren Ambrose put it, “Speed kills.” The Quakers found this out in a big way this weekend against Princeton, as they fell to the Tigers, 4-2, on the road. Princeton’s Jen Hoy demonstrated why she deserves the Ivy League Player of the Year award, using her speed to create breakaways on multiple occasions, despite double and triple-teams by Penn’s defense. When the Quakers swarmed her, Hoy fed to Lauren Lazo, who recorded a hat trick on the evening.

To their credit, the Red and Blue (9-6-1, 5-2 Ivy) did not go down without a fight. Late in the second half, Clara Midgley added two goals in nine minutes to make the game 3-2. However, the Tigers ultimately added one more score and walked away with a win as well as the league championship.

With Yale steamrolling the Ivy standings, it’s a race to second place for Penn volleyball. Despite knotting the match at 1-1 at one point, the squad failed to slow down the Bulldogs (16-5, 12-0 Ivy) and lost by a final of 3-1 Friday night at the Palestra. However, the Quakers (13-10, 8-4) turned around Saturday to defeat Brown, 3-1, on Senior Night. The Red and Blue currently sit at third in the Ivy League behind Yale and Princeton (12-10, 9-3) with two matches remaining.

Has Yale already ended the Quakers’ volleyball season?

Last weekend, the Penn volleyball team beat Princeton. Now what?

The Quakers are tied with Harvard for third place in the Ivy League Standings, one game behind Princeton and three games behind undefeated defending champion Yale. Now beginning its second pass through the Ivy gauntlet, Penn not only must win but has to do what all teams hate doing: Hope its opponents will lose.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a very realistic proposal. Not only has Yale yet to lose a single game to an Ivy opponent, they have only lost two sets in the Ivy season — one to Brown and one to Dartmouth, the two teams tied for last place in the Ivy League rankings. The Bulldogs are opportunistic and excel against competitive teams that have given them problems in the past, like Princeton. Their offense thrives, even against strong defensive back rows like Penn, and is ranked third in the nation in both kills and assists per set.

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Weekend Wrap: Volleyball shocks Princeton on the road and more

We all know you've had ample football coverage this weekend, but what about the members of the Red and Blue playing at venues other than the Yale Bowl? For recaps of Penn's other squads, look no further than this week's edition of "Weekend Wrap."

The volleyball team began the second half of its conference schedule with a dramatic victory over Princeton on the road, battling back from two sets down to win, 3-2. While Penn (10-9, 5-3 Ivy) will need the Tigers and the Bulldogs to lose some matches to give it a chance at an Ivy title, this weekend’s performance could be a major turning point for this relatively young squad.

Men's Soccer
Playing on the road, the Quakers’ struggles continued, and the team lost to a lackluster Yale squad, 2-1. Without an Ivy win to its name, this Red and Blue team is hard pressed to find a silver lining to this season’s performance. That said, Penn (2-11, 0-4) could make some noise in the Ivy League by upsetting first-place Brown next weekend.

Women's Soccer
Though this team has walked on a knife’s edge at times this season, the Penn women’s soccer squad has a legitimate shot at an Ivy title, and the team made progress toward that goal by defeating Yale, 2-0, in New Haven. It was just the third road victory for the Quakers (8-5-1, 4-1) against the Bulldogs in program history, and the first time in four games that the Red and Blue have put up multiple goals in a game. These are auspicious signs for the team as it enters its final two matches of the season, including a hotly anticipated showdown with league-leading Princeton on Nov. 3.

Field Hockey
A 3-2 victory on the road over Yale keeps Penn field hockey on pace to improve upon last year’s 2-5 Ivy League record, not to mention out of last place. The game ball (is that a thing in field hockey?) undoubtedly goes to junior captain Julie Tahan, who assisted two scores before adding the game-winner herself. The following day, the Quakers (7-7, 2-3) dropped a contest against Fairfield, 4-2. While coaches and players will give you a line about why momentum’s important, the fact of the matter is that the Ivy slate is what counts, so if you’re going to split for the weekend, the Red and Blue did it right.

Dani Shepherd alone atop Division I

Junior Dani Shepherd currently leads the Division I standings in digs per set. After an impressive weekend against Princeton and Towson, she is now boasting 6.61 digs/sets, which will extend her already comfortable lead.

Shepherd was picked for the first-team All-Ivy last season and finished last season third in the nation in digs per set.

She is the only Ivy player in the top 50 in this category, and she is just one aspect of the impressive defense the Quakers have mustered up so far this season. Despite losing their first Ivy League match of the season, Penn had a strong defensive showing, posting 10 blocks and 118 digs in the five-set match.

Kerry Carr on three-peating and Al Bagnoli

I was browsing through the great Dave Zeitlin's Penn Gazette blog this afternoon when I stumbled across this little gem from volleyball coach Kerry Carr. Penn volleyball, with a little less fanfare, is in the same unique position as the football team in that they're both going for third consecutive titles this fall. Carr said she and Bagnoli have joked about it:

Penn Gazette: Do you ever talk to Al Bagnoli about the challenges of repeating and going for three in a row because you guys are in the same boat now, just as you were in the early part of the 2000s?

Kerry Carr: Yeah, and I also talked to [ex-Penn basketball coach Fran] Dunphy back in the day because he was the master at repeating. With Coach Bagnoli, we more joke about it because it’s funny that people think that because you won last year, this year you will win too. Both of us are faced with a very young team this year with some key starters gone. We just know how much work is ahead of us to do the same thing. The Ivy League championship is always the goal but we have so many little things to accomplish first.

Note the shoutout to Dunphy. It's an interesting perspective because so many people expect Penn football to be so good this year after not losing an Ivy game in two seasons. But Saturday's loss was a bit of a wake-up call — both to the fans and the players — that it's not so easy.

The real expert on the topic of repeat championships? Women's lacrosse coach Karin Corbett. She's won five straight.

Volleyball settles coaching shake-up before season opener

New volleyball assistant coach Kristen Rott directs a preseason practice.

New volleyball assistant coach Kristen Rott directs a preseason practice.

With the season-opening Big 5 tournament just around the corner, Penn volleyball has filled the hole in its coaching staff after top assistant Ryan Goodwin left last month for personal reasons.

Replacing Goodwin will be former second-assistant Seth Rochlin, who joined the Quakers in 2010 for their run to a second-consecutive Ivy title. Rochlin graduated from University of Arizona in 2008 and spent two seasons coaching volleyball at his high school alma mater.

"Assistant Coach Ryan Goodwin left the program last month when his family had a job opportunity out of the state," head coach Kerry Carr said in a statement. "We appreciate everything Ryan gave to the program during his tenure and wish him the best of luck in his new home. Fortunately, we were able to hire some of the best young coaching talent available and I am excited to work with this year's staff.

"Seth helped us out so much last year when he came on board, both in the office and in the gym," Carr added. "It was an easy transition to first assistant as he was already fulfilling all the duties in that position, plus creating new ones needed to make our program better."

Sliding into the second-assistant vacancy will be Kristen Rott. A 2008 graduate of Oregon, she also served as a volunteer assistant there while earning a masters in education. Rott played both basketball and volleyball for the Ducks, and hooped professionally in Germany.

Christopher Jones will be Penn's volunteer assistant, having coached at Haverford college and nearby Lower Merion high school.

Volleyball playoff at Yale

After a thrilling 5-set win over Princeton yesterday to secure a share of the Ivy volleyball title, Penn also earned a shot at returning to the NCAA tourney for the second straight year. But since the Quakers tied Yale, they'll have a playoff match in New Haven, Conn., Sunday.

The Quakers have amassed a 0.727 (8-3) winning percentage at home this season, while going 0.533 (8-7) on the road, including a difficult California road trip early in the season. They beat Yale at the Palestra, and lost in New Haven. So why will the Quakers have to travel to Yale, where they statistically are much worse off?

According to Sarah Finney, assistant director of communications and championships at the Ivy League office, the conference rules stipulate that "the match will take place at the home site of the top-seeded team. The top-seeded team is determined by a formula which, in this year's case, makes Yale the top-seed due to the fact that Yale's win over Penn was in three sets and Penn's win over yale was in four sets."

In previous years, the Ivy Manual stipulated that the playoff game would be at a neutral, preferably Ivy League site, though the rules have changed. Finney said that due to a 4-team playoff at a neutral site in 2004, crowds were very low, and the league coaches proposed a change in the rules to help bring out more crowds to the potential playoffs. The proposal went through the League's legislative process and was approved by the Ancient Eight's athletic directors.

Could Penn Take It To The Beach?

After a vote at the 2010 NCAA convention, it's possible that Penn could expand its recent volleyball domination to the Jersey Shore.

One of the particularly contentious issues going into last week's convention was a movement by many schools to strike "sand volleyball" (also known as beach volleyball to many) from a list of emerging women's sports that would have fasttracked the sport to Division I play.

The vote on this failed, and sand volleyball will be added to the list of emerging sports for women in August 2011. This means mixed things for Penn.

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The top 10 moments in 2009

This year might not have been the best for Penn sports. But that's not to say that it wasn't an exciting year, with plenty of big news stories. So here is my personal top 10 moments ("moments" loosely defined) of the year. And yes, some are positive, while some are negative.  So continue after the jump for the picks.

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