Cornell volleyball (10-3, 3-0 Ivy) looks to take sole possession of first place in the Ancient Eight as Princeton (10-3, 2-1 Ivy) and Penn (6-7, 3-0 Ivy) make their annual visits to Newman Arena tonight and tomorrow afternoon, respectively.
The Red is set to take the floor tonight against the Tigers after a close, five-game loss against Syracuse (15-7, 4-2 Big East) last Tuesday at the Orange’s Manley Field House. The loss snapped the Red’s nine-game winning streak. The defeat was Cornell’s first since the opening weekend of the regular season, in which it lost to a solid Duke (10-5, 4-3 ACC) team at the Duke Invitational Tournament.
Despite the loss, the Red has been dominating opponents midway through the regular season.
“We’re at a good point, having set our foundation at a high level,” said senior co-captain Kelly Kramer. “Everyone knows that we can even be better and we want to keep building on that this weekend.”
Kramer posted a season-high 30 digs against the Orange, moving her into second place on the Red’s all-time career digs list.
After recording 14 kills with only two errors against Yale on Saturday and then hitting a career-high 19 kills against Syracuse, junior middle blocker Joanna Weiss has become a force for the Red, offering the team a strong second option on the attack. Weiss currently ranks second in the Ivy League with a .375 hitting percentage.
Junior Thais Mirela also made a splash for the Red this past weekend. She recorded the first double-double of her Cornell career against the Orange after she notched 17 kills and 15 digs.
Princeton arrives on the East Hill seeking revenge after last year’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Red in the semifinal match of the Ivy League playoff for the NCAA tournament bid. Cornell has won the last three matches against Princeton but the Tigers enter tonight’s match-up having won two in a row and nine of their last 11. Princeton leads the Ancient Eight in service aces with 104 for the season, good enough for 12th in the nation.
“Every year Princeton has a good volleyball team,” said Cornell head coach Deitre Collins. “They’re a little bit bigger this year with the freshmen that they’ve added and they are a team that you have to beat, because you know that they aren’t going to make a lot of mistakes.”
The Tigers feature a young yet efficient attack led by junior Lauren Grumet, freshman Lindsey Ensign, and fellow rookie Parker Henritze. Henritze will look to make her case for Ivy League Rookie of the Year as she will likely line up against Elizabeth Bishop. The two players rank one and two in kills per game in the Ivy League with 5.17 and 4.62 respectively. Princeton will rely heavily on Jenny McReynolds – the Ivy League leader in digs – in the defensive backcourt.
The Quakers enter tomorrow’s contest in the midst of a three-match winning streak, and currently are tied with the Red for first place in the Ivy League. Despite its undefeated record in Ivy play, Penn still remains winless on the road. Cornell will face the Quakers for the first time since the Red was swept 3-0 last November in Philadelphia.
“We can’t overlook Penn’s record because they’ve played one of the hardest non-conference schedules in the Ivy League,” Collins said. “We know that this is a team that we have to beat.”
Penn is led by sophomore setter Linda Zhang and senior outside hitter Cara Thomason who leads the team with 110 kills on the season. Penn ranks fourth in the league in opponent hitting percentage and blocks per game.
“We’re excited to be playing this weekend and we just want to continue to do what we’ve been doing,” Collins said. “This is what we’re focused on and we’ll be ready to show up for sure.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer