Cornell volleyball (1-2, 0-0 Ivy) hosts its home opener tonight against LaSalle (5-3) in the first game of the Cornell Invitational tournament. Tomorrow, Cornell welcomes familiar foe Colgate (1-8) and the Horizon League’s Butler (3-5) to East Hill.
“The one thing we want to do is win all our matches at home,” said head coach Deitre Collins. “We want Newman to be a hard place for teams to come in and play. We are ready to play at home.”
Cornell will play its first game since last week’s Duke Invitational, which saw the Red start out fast. The Red defeated SMU in its first game of the season, winning 3-0.
However, early-season rust started to show in the second game against Charlotte, as the Red barely lost a marathon game against the 49ers, losing 3-2. Game one against Charlotte saw the Red lose a 40-38 barnburner in which the lead changed hands six times in the final 20 points. The game was the longest in Cornell volleyball history. Cornell’s offense then had a tough time against a solid Duke team in the final game of the tournament. The Blue Devils beat the Red, 3-1.
Despite Cornell’s struggles against Charlotte and Duke, Cornell has impressed enough to earn first place in the Ivy League and 12th in the nation with 3.29 blocks per game. The blockers have started strong, as four of the top-5 blockers in the Ivy League are from Cornell. Among the league leaders are juniors Katie Rademacher, Joanna Weiss, Alaina Town, and outside hitter Liz Bishop. Bishop also ranks first in the Ivy League with 5.08 kills per game. Despite the high honors, the team has prepared hard for its first home game tonight.
“We worked hard this week at picking up the speed of our offense,” said junior middle blocker Katie Rademacher. “It’s important that we attack quicker because it gives the opposing team’s defense less time to react. It’s harder playing against a fast team than it is against a team that is big.”
A quicker offense should pay dividends for the Red since on paper, both LaSalle and Butler are both bigger than Cornell. LaSalle and Colgate are very inexperienced teams that are led by freshman standouts.
LaSalle visits Cornell after losing three of its last four games, most recently losing a five-game decision to UMBC. The lady Explorers are led by freshman middle hitter Christa Dominick, who has registered back-to-back 18 kill performances against St. Peter’s and UMBC. Dominick was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for the second straight week in a row. Cornell leads the all-time series against LaSalle, 2-0.
Cornell will renew an old rivalry tomorrow as it hosts Colgate. The meeting will be the 76th time that the two squads will have met. Cornell leads the all-time series 52-22-1. Colgate stumbles into Newman Arena having lost seven straight games to open the season before beating Providence, 3-1, at their own Colgate Invitational tournament. Colgate is led by freshman outside hitter Katrina Zawojski, who leads her team with 4.40 kills per game.
Butler will pose a tough test for Cornell as the Bulldogs posted an 18-2 record last year, establishing themselves among the Horizon League elite.
The lady Bulldogs are led by junior Susana Henri and senior libero Megan Knightly. Knightly was named the 2004 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year after her 4.51 digs per game average was the highest single-season mark in Butler history.
“The toughest competition this weekend should come from Butler,” Collins said. “They are a pretty athletic team and they are very reputable. Hopefully we can knock them off and gain a little bit of credibility.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer