Competing in the Midwest proved a challenge for the Cornell volleyball team (3-3) as the Red went 1-2 in the Kangaroo Klassic, hosted by University of Missouri at Kansas City. Cornell fell to both the host school and Bradley before beating University of Nebraska at Omaha in the final match.
The weekend brought record-breaking performances from athletes like senior Alyssa Phelps — who was able to eclipse the 2,500 career assist mark in the match against Bradley — and junior Maddie Sroufe, who was added to the all tournament team after nailing a game-high 13 kills in the win over Nebraska-Omaha.
The Red kicked off the tournament against UMKC. The team lost 3-0 in a game with major contributions from junior Kit McCarthy and senior Macey Wilson. However, despite these efforts, the team was not able to surpass the Kangaroos.
“This weekend taught us a lot about what Cornell volleyball is and how we have the ability to accomplish so much when we work together as a team,” Wilson said. “The preseason is really meant to allow us to figure out our team chemistry and how we can all work together and I think we were really able to work on that.”
McCarthy agreed that, despite the result, there were certainly positives to take away from the contest.
“We will learn from our losses this past weekend and it was awesome to finish it on a high note,” McCarthy said. “It was really nice to get the chance to play in front of Alyssa’s and Emily [Wenhoff]’s family and friends. Everyone is keeping our work-hard team mentality in preparation for next weekend.”
Like the Kangaroos, Bradley also posed many challenges to the team, sweeping the Red in three sets, 23-25,19-25 and 16-25. Playing on Friday, the team came up short but, again, the women were able to take away important lessons from the program’s first match ever against Bradley.
“We were definitely made more aware of what our strengths and weaknesses,” Wilson said. She also noted that the team knows what it needs to focus on going forward.
“We played well against UMKC, they have a very potent offense … and we didn’t adjust,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “I don’t think we came out with confidence against Bradley so we were a bit flat and tentative.”
On Saturday, the team played its final match, picking up its lone win of the tournament to beat Nebraska-Omaha, 2-1, in a strong team effort.
“This weekend was an important learning moment for our team,” said junior Maddy Sroufe. “We learned that our success depends on playing our game and focusing on our side of the net, which we were able to do in our last match against UNO and will carry into our matches next weekend.”
Vande Berg said part of the reason for the team’s pair of losses last weekend was its mental mistakes.
“We have to learn how to mentally prepare ourselves for every match and come out with the same confidence and intensity against every opponent,” Vande Berg said. “We need to believe that we can win every match.”
The Red concludes its tournament schedule next weekend when the team travels to Bucknell to compete in the Bison Classic before tackling the Ivy League leg of the season.
“I am very excited to get to play again this weekend and prove to everyone and ourselves that we can be extremely successful this season,” Wilson said.
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