Coming off a pair of wins in two important Ivy League contests this past weekend, the volleyball team continued its hot streak — and also exacted a little revenge — in a non-conference match last night in Ithaca.
Dominating much of the play, the Red (12-8, 6-2 Ivy) swept Syracuse (10-19, 4-5 Big East) 30-14, 30-17 and 30-26 to defeat the Orange for the first time in almost 20 years. Syracuse was also responsible for breaking a Cornell nine-game winning streak a year ago.
“We played really well. We were all very excited after the match. We really didn’t let them get in the game,” said senior co-captain Liz Bishop. “It was only after the match that I realized we hadn’t beaten them since 1987.”
Bishop had huge hand in the Cornell victory, leading the team with 15 kills off of an impressive .387 hitting and also added seven digs. Classmates Alex Dyer and Alaina Town also made major contributions at the net for the Red. Dyer collected 13 kills and 13 digs while Town had six kills and five blocks.
Cornell jumped out to a quick start in the first game, opening up a 15-8 lead. After trading the next several points, the Red put the game away using an 11-2 run to put the game away 30-14.
Enjoying a .469 to -.030 advantage in attack percentage over Syracuse in that game, Cornell benefited from four kills apiece from Bishop, senior Joanna Weiss and sophomore Kathryn Woodbury.
“Our communication was key,” Bishop said. “We mixed it up a lot so that blocks couldn’t get staked out. Our defense was great also.”
Similar to the opening game, Cornell jumped out to an early lead in the second game as it scored the first four points of the contest. From there, the Red gradually built its lead to 15-7 and, later, 20-8 following an impressive kill from sophomore Emily Borman off a quick set by junior Amy Gordon. Cornell then traded points with Syracuse to win the game 30-17 and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Bishop led all hitters with seven kills in that second game, while Town and Borman also made a significant contribution with three kills apiece in that frame.
Unlike the first two games, the two teams were deadlocked early in the third one with the score knotted at 10. Using a 10-4 run, the Red created some momentary breathing room before the Orange battled back to get within one point of Cornell at 27-26. The drama was short-lived, however, as the Red clinched the match with successive kills from Woodbury, Bishop and Dyer.
Overall, Cornell enjoyed a .364 to .034 advantage in hitting percentage and committed only 23 errors compared to the Orange’s 34 miscues. The home team also dominated the net with its blocking, collecting nine and a half blocks — three and a half more than its counterpart — for the evening.
“We always focus on blocking because it should be a strength for us,” Bishop said. “Tonight we gave them no room to hit and played great defense.”
Freshman Megan Mushovic was responsible for much of that defense leading the Red with 20 digs. Meanwhile, sophomore setter Hilary Holland and Gordon paced Cornell in assists with 20 and 19, respectively. Gordon also made some spectacular plays digging out Syracuse tips over her teammates’ blocks.
Cornell will try to keep this momentum rolling as it heads into an all-important home weekend against Ivy League foes. A game behind Yale in the Ivy League standings, the Red will kick off play on Friday against the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. in Newman Arena.
“We’re feeling really good and will be very prepared and focused for that match. We’re really excited about it,” Bishop said. “We have everything to gain and nothing to lose — it’s really a must-win for us.”