The volleyball team will look to get off to a good start this weekend as it opens its season at the Crowne Plaza Classic tourney hosted by Robert Morris. The new season holds much promise for the Red. Last season Cornell finished 17-9 overall, claiming third place in the Ivy League. The squad this year returns four starters from that team and has added six recruits in its quest to capture the Ivy title that has eluded the Red since 1993 and earn a NCAA tournament berth.
Third-year head coach Christie Jackson commented, “Blending the talent of the new and the experience of the old, we could have a special season in 2002.”
The Red will face off against four other teams in a round robin setup: Binghamton (1-6, 0-0 A. East); Howard (2-7, 1-0 MEAC); Providence (0-7, 0-0 Big East); Robert Morris (4-4, 0-0 NEC). Cornell will first face off against Binghamton on Friday at 2 p.m..
Binghamton is off to a rough start this season after coming on strong towards the end of last season, their first in Division I as an independent. The Bearcats have already participated in two tournaments, dropping three matches at the Maryland tournament and two out of three at the Illinois-Chicago tournament. They will look towards a trio of sophomores Jennifer Smith, Michelle Heck, and Anne Crocus to guide them in the tournament.
Howard also has had trouble early in the season, posting a 2-7 record though it is 1-0 in the MEAC. Juniors Jerri Hayes and Dawn Thomas, who combined to average nearly five kills per game in 2001, will lead it.
Providence is another team that has had trouble early on, starting the season 0-7 by being swept in tournaments at Saint Louis and Stony Brook. Its offense has particularly struggled with the huge void that All-Big East outside hitter Sarah Katinger left. It is hitting only .065 as a team.
Robert Morris has been streaky, winning its first two and last two but dropping four in a row in between those matches. This is a dangerous team though that returns all six starters from its team last year that reached the NCAA tournament. It is a preseason favorite to win the NEC this year and will likely be Cornell’s strongest competition in the tournament.
The Red will look to All-Ivy outside hitters senior Angela Barbera and junior Debbie Quibell to provide much of its offense. Barbera posted 2.80 kills and 2.24 digs per game last year. Quibell, a first-team all-conference pick a season ago, led the squad in kills for the second straight year. They will be joined in the middle by the junior blocker tandem of Jamie Lugo and Ashley Stover, who both finished among the league’s top 10 in blocks. In addition, the Red will see the return of junior setter and co-captain Rachel Rice. An all-conference player two years ago, Rice missed most of last season with a variety of injuries. Her return should make Cornell even more dangerous to opponents. She will be joined by senior captain and defensive specialist Mary Margaret Moore in the backcourt.
The Red hopes to build momentum from this tournament and take it into the rest of the season. Along with the treacherous 14-game conference slate, the squad will compete in two other tournaments, including a tournament at Georgia Tech next week and its own Big Red Invitational.
Archived article by Chris Callanan