The Cornell volleyball team suffered a pair of losses to two Ivy League foes this past weekend, falling to both Brown and Yale at Newman Arena.
The Red gave up its overall positive winning percentage by losing both games, dropping to 5-7 on the season. These two losses also add to the heartbreaker loss to Columbia last week, putting the Cornell girls in last place among the Ancient Eight with a 0-3 Ivy record.
“Despite the two losses, we did some really good things this weekend,” said senior setter Alyssa Phelps. “Our team hitting percentage was about .275 for both matches, which is the best we’ve hit all season.”
Much like last year, the girls struggled to close out crucial matches this weekend, losing by a mere two to four points in many sets. Against Brown, the Red blew the Bears out of the water 25-11 in the first set, before losing the next set 25-23. After Cornell bounced back with a 26-24 win in the third set, Brown fought back again, defeating Cornell 25-21 in the fourth set and solidifying their victory with a nail-biting 15-13 performance in the fifth and final set.
“So many of our games came down to the last two points,” Phelps noted. “We’re going to work this week on being better under pressure and being confident in our abilities to close out a game.”
Cornell struggled out of the gate against Yale as well, losing its first set 25-19. The Red seemed to have found its stride when the girls reciprocated the score with a 25-19 win in the following set, but luck ran out. The Bulldogs secured the next two wins in very close 25-23 and 26-24 showings.
“We played a good match against Yale,” head coach Trudy VandeBerg said. “We executed the gameplan and were in control of our own destiny. We let them off the hook late in sets three and four, and a team like Yale is going to take advantage of that.”
The girls did indeed play overall solid matches this weekend despite the end results. The team tied or led in almost every statistical category against both teams, according to junior right setter Kit McCarty. Cornell led both teams across the board in kills, errors, hitting percentage, points, aces, blocks, TAs and assists, but just could not secure the win.
“At practice this week, we are going to continue to work hard, competitively push each other, make adjustments, and become even more of a cohesive group,” McCarty added.
Continued preparation and finding the right mindset will be key in turning Cornell’s season around. An early 0-3 hole in conference standings can be discouraging, but focusing on negatives is not a part of the game plan.
“This week we are going to really emphasize visualizing ourselves being successful,” Phelps said confidently. “We’re going to work on successfully getting out of pressure situations, continue to sharpen different facets of our game, and prepare for [Penn].”
The Red will host two more Ivy League matchups next weekend, slated to face Penn Oct. 7 and Princeton the very next day. Penn is currently 2-1 among the Ivies, only losing to Princeton so far. Princeton, on the other hand, boasts an undefeated 3-0 Ivy record, so earning a pair of victories for Cornell will surely be a dog fight.
The key to this accomplishment comes from more than practicing spikes and sets, according to Vande Berg.
“We had the killer instinct in the preseason in close matches,” she said. “We need to get that back.”