By OLIVIA MATTYASOVSZKY
This weekend, Cornell was host to Binghamton, Seton Hall and Loyola University of Chicago. On Friday, Binghamton came to Newman Arena for the first match of the Invitational. The Bearcats entered the match with a 3-6 record, and the Red looked to even out their record with a win, coming in at 3-4.
Cornell (4-6) and Binghamton (3-11) were neck and neck in the first set. Tied at 23-23, the Red pulled ahead for the win with two huge blocks from freshman Maddy Sroufe and junior Macey Wilson. Wilson also led the team in kills, slamming 15 kills down and totaling a .370 kill percentage.
“We really came together and played great on Friday,” Wilson said. “Being at home was extremely exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I think we felt a lot more pressure to perform at home, but the crowd against Binghamton was incredible.”
The stands were packed in Newman for the Friday game, chanting and cheering against the Bearcats. The raucous crowd helped the home team take the second set 25-15, led by freshmen Alex Basler and Carla Sganderlla. Despite a loss in the third set, the Red pulled off the win in the fourth set to take the match, winning in another nail-biter 25-23.
On Saturday, the Red hosted Seton Hall (6-6) at 1 p.m. The Pirates entered the game on a four game losing streak, but that didn’t stop them from battling the home team, winning the match in three quick sets. Like the night before, sophomore Chelsea Sincox led both teams in digs, scooping up eight against the Pirates. Regular setter junior Alyssa Phelps hit back-side for some rotations, allowing freshmen setters Lauren Donnelly and Gabby Goodall to get some important playing experience. Donnelly recorded nine assists, while Goodall finished with five.
Later that night, the final match of the Invitational took place at 7 p.m., this one a matchup featuring the Loyola Ramblers (11-2) and Cornell. The Ramblers came in with a lot of experience under their belts; they had met with 12 opponents compared to Cornell’s nine. Coming in with victories in the Invitational over Binghamton and Seton Hall, against the home team, the Ramblers won in three straight sets. Both the first and second ended in a 25-15 loss for the Red, and despite putting up a fight in the last set, the Cornell gave up that one too, 25-23.
Phelps was back as the setter for the Red, and earned All-Tournament honors for her performance, consistently putting up big assisting and blocking numbers.
“One of the things we learned this weekend is how to focus and fight in tough situations,” Wilson said. “We really enjoyed playing strong teams this weekend. It was a great learning experience to be challenged by some teams that are at the level of our strongest conference opponents. It really allowed us to understand some things we need to work on to do well in the Ivy League.”
The team will get its first chance to go up against Ivy League competition, when Columbia comes to Ithaca on Saturday.