While many Cornellians used fall break to catch up on homework or spend time back home, the volleyball team was hard at work competing in a string of matches.
Over the weekend, the team dueled with Ivy League competitors Princeton and Penn and the ended the competition-filled break against Binghamton on Tuesday.
Cornell topped the Quakers to earn its first Ivy League win of the season on Friday.
“The thing I am the proudest of is how hard the team works,” said junior Kiley McPeek, who had a match-high 21 digs in the win. “Everyone on the team is working towards the same goal and works to get better every day to get one step closer to reaching these goals,”
Head coach Trudy Vande Berg acknowledged that team is nearly unbeatable when playing at its best.
“I think the team knows and feels like we can beat anyone if we play as a team and stick to our game,” Vande Berg said. “They recognize when we aren’t being disciplined as why we aren’t being successful in the end.”
On Saturday, the team stumbled in its battle against Princeton. The Tigers are currently in the top spot of the Ivy League, improving to 11-3 in their 3-0 victory over the Red.
Despite the loss, the team had strong performances from athletes like junior Kit McCarthy, who lead the team with six kills.
Despite the loss, sophomore Carla Sganderlla lauded the team’s mental preparation for the game.
“We definitely worked on being mentally tough as a team throughout practice the past week and a half in order to prepare ourselves for upcoming matches,” Sganderlla said. “By putting ourselves in a position in practice where we need to be mentally tough it helps us in a game when the score is close. We have learned to keep our composure as a team and not become frantic when the game is close.”
The women of the team showed that mental toughness when they were able to regroup and eek out a close win over Binghamton, closing out their non-conference matches. The five-set victory saw double digit kills from three Cornellians: Sganderlla, McPeek and junior Emily Wemhoff.
“I think we learned that we can stick with teams and that have we what it takes,” McPeek said, “but we need to figure out how to close out those tight matches. This is something we will really be focusing on playing the teams a second time.”
Vande Berg mentioned that the team will be focusing on maintaining its aggression in the upcoming games.
“We have to stay aggressive in pressure situations,” the coach said. “Being careful rarely works in our favor.”
Ivy League competition rolls on for the Red, as Cornell will square off against Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend. Harvard is currently tied for fourth in the Ivy League, while Dartmouth is in the back of the pack, still looking to secure its first conference win.
“If we continue to stay disciplined and focused and fight until the last point we should have a successful week,” Vande Berg said. “Both teams this weekend have some physical players but I feel that we match up nicely with them.”
Two more conference games represent a chance for the Red to make a statement in the league.
“I think Harvard and Dartmouth give our team an exciting opportunity to show the Ivy League how good our team can be,” McPeek said. “Harvard was the reigning champions last year so it will be fun to be able to play them again.”
Regardless of the road ahead, the team is proud of its ability to sustain a united front through it all.
“I am most proud of the team’s determination throughout the whole season,” Sganderlla said. “I know that all my teammates and I are on the same page when it comes to the season, which is to win the Ivy League. We as a team always put in the work and effort in order to get better.”