By OLIVIA MATTYASOVSZKY
On its last regular season weekend away from Cornell, the volleyball team will face the Harvard Crimson on Friday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then travel up to Hanover, New Hampshire, to face the Dartmouth Big Green.
“Last time we played Harvard and Dartmouth, we were able to stay up with them, despite coming up short,” said freshman Carla Sganderlla. “This is our last away game for this season, so we are going to go out there and execute the game play against both teams. We know that by doing so we can go 2-0 this weekend.”
After this past weekend, Cornell enters the match against Harvard 6-14 record overall, including a in-conference record of 2-8. Harvard enters the match with an 11-9 record overall and 7-3 in the Ivy.
The Crimson is currently at the top of the Ivy League standings, but the Cornell players are confident that this match is anyone’s game, according to junior middle blocker Macey Wilson.
“The league is so close that anyone can beat anyone on any night and I think that has really fueled us to work harder to win,” Wilson said.
Last time the Crimson met the Red, it was mid-October at Newman Arena. The game was incredibly close, and Cornell took the visiting team to five sets. The first two sets went to the Red, 25-22, and then 25-14. The three sets after that were all within two points, but Harvard came out on top with scores of 25-23, 26-24 and the tie-breaker with a score of 15-13.
A big player for the Crimson in its last meeting with the Red was libero Sindhu Vegesena. She had 31 digs and proved to be the difference in the last three games, each won by just two points.
To beat her this year, setter Alyssa Phelps and the front row will have to dial in. Getting just twelve blocks as a team in the last match, Wilson said Cornell has to focus on defense in the front row.
“I think we really need to work on our blocking,” she said. “That could be a huge asset for us and give us an edge.”
On Saturday, the Red will go up to Hanover to face the third-ranked team in the Ivy League, Dartmouth. Currently Dartmouth is 6-4 in the Ivy League, tied with Yale in the standings. At the last meeting, Cornell hosted the Big Green for the Dig Pink fundraiser benefiting breast cancer, but couldn’t clinch the match, losing 3-1. Once again, the Cornell team started off strong, winning the first set 25-22. In what has become a pattern for the Red, the opposition dug in and came back strong, winning the next three sets 25-21, 25-16 and 25-20.
The Dartmouth front row proved formidable, notching 51 kills compared to Cornell’s 44, for a .270 kill percentage. The serving game was also a deciding factor for the Big Green, which put up 11 aces compared to Cornell’s four. Big names for the Big Green last match were hitters Emily Astarita, Kaira Lugan, and Morgan Dressel, who hit with a strong .615 kill percentage.
Coming off a win last weekend, the women know they can stay with anyone.
“The win against Brown was great, but we know that we will need to work just as hard this weekend and next weekend to finish out the Ivies,” Sganderlla said.
Head coach Trudy Vande Berg said she is confident the Red can come out victorious.
“I don’t think we will have to change our strategy much for this weekend,” Vande Berg said. “We will continue to put our team in pressure situations so we continue to get better at staying disciplined, focused and composed. Both teams are having a great season, we will have to do all of those things to win but I feel that we are playing our best volleyball of the season. I’m excited to get there.”