The Cornell volleyball team did not exactly open up its season as planned last weekend, losing three straight matches on its California trip. The losses all came against some of the best competition in the country, including head coach Dietre Collins’ former employer, UNLV. Nevertheless, the Red is still 0-3 and looking to rebound starting today at the Bucknell Invitational.
“Our outlook is pretty positive,” said co-captain Kelly Kramer. “We learned a lot from our losses and we are looking to start winning. We don’t want to lose another match from here on out.”
The team will travel to Lewisburg, Penn. for an 8:30 p.m. match tonight against Duquesne. It will then play twice on Saturday against the tournament host Bison and Niagara.
“We actually know very little about these teams,” Kramer said. “The coaches have watched some film but we aren’t going to do any of our scouting until we get down there and watch them live. We are going to treat them like they are as good or better than any of our competition in the Ivy League.”
Duquesne enters its match against the Red with a 4-5 overall record, although the team has been sliding of late, losing three of its last four. The Dukes are led by junior Diana Wuebker, who earned a spot on the All-Atlantic 10 team in 2003 for her dominant play at the net.
Wuebker leads the team with 3.25 kills per game, chipping in 12 in the team’s last loss to cross-town foe Pitt.
The Bison (4-3), winners of four out of their last five matches, enter the tournament as the only team with a winning record. After losing two of three to open the season, the team stormed back with a second-place finish at the Morgan State Tournament a week ago.
However, its lone loss did came against one of the Red’s familiar foes — Princeton. Senior Jackie Leahy leads the Bison with 4.0 kills per game, finishing with 11 last weekend against the Tigers. However, besides Leahy, Bucknell also has six players hitting .200 or better.
Cornell will face-off against Niagara (1-6) in its last contest of the weekend. The Purple Eagles are looking to capture their first road win since November 2, 2003 when they defeated Marist. Junior middle hitter Karen Simpson leads the team with a .261 hitting percentage.
Classmate Michelle LeSouder is the only other player with an above .200 hitting percentage, as she leads the teams in kills with 4.78 per game. The Red won the head-to-head match against the Purple Eagles last season in three games and it wants to duplicate the effort on Saturday.
“We definitely were a little rusty our first weekend,” Kramer said. “But, we learned a lot about our strengths and weaknesses and we know what we need to work on. At times, we had moments of brilliance last weekend and we just want to try to put that together for a whole game.”
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer