Cornell’s volleyball team faced off against Yale and Brown this weekend, ultimately splitting the road trip. The Red went 1-1 on the weekend, falling 3-1 to Yale, but rallying on Saturday for a 3-1 victory against Brown. By reversing their past storyline against the Bears, the team moved to 4-6 in conference play.
Senior setter Alyssa Phelps had milestone performance over the weekend, surpassing 3,000 career assists in the second game against the Bears. But for the team, it was all about making adjustments after a tough lost against Yale (14-4): composing and following the plan.
“After the loss, as a team we decided that we were going to try to execute our gameplan to perfection and stay composed the whole time,” said sophomore Carla Sganderlla. “We felt as though we could take care of business easily if we stuck to the game plan without getting frantic if things were not going our way. I think we definitely achieved that goal, which earned us a win.”
In its proceeding win, the Red was able to secure revenge after the lost it suffered to Brown (4-16) earlier in the season.
“We went into the Brown game ready to take care of business,” said freshman Lily Barber. “Brown beat us in our home gym the first time we played them, and we wanted revenge.”
Barber had a strong showing on Saturday against the Bears, with 14 digs. Head coach Trudy VandeBerg acknowledged the difficulties of playing Brown, specifically.
“[The Bears] dig everything and just keep sending the ball back and that is something that we have struggled with in the past,” Vande Berg said. “The team knew what they needed to do and they executed very well for three and a half sets.”
Cornell is focused on motivating each other through these difficult sets and remaining energetic.
“In order to motivate my team, I make sure that we are all playing for each other,” Sganderlla said. “Volleyball is the ultimate team sport and requires each player to be selfless with every touch of the ball and point of the game. It is easy to feel upset when you make an error because I know that everyone wants to help the team out and execute their position’s job.”
The sophomore went on to highlight the importance of individual contribution to this team effort.
“It is very easy to cheer for a teammate who executed a skill perfectly,” Sganderlla said. “So, in the end, it comes down to each player, regardless if they are on the court or on the bench, supporting one another.”
Cornell is gearing up for the home stretch, looking to gain consistency and make noise in the Ivy League.
“With so few games left in the season, I’m excited and ready to show the rest of the team what Cornell volleyball is all about,” Barber said. “Sometimes we show teams a little bit of our fire and turn heads, like in the game against Harvard, but we haven’t done it consistently yet. My goal is to finally prove what this team has been working so hard to do for a long, long time.”
Vande Berg said she believes her team has a natural hunger for competition.
“I think they motivate themselves because they are so competitive and want to win,” Vande Berg said. “I just try to keep them focused on what they need to execute to help us win. Keep them thinking about what to look for next, not about what just happened.”
Saturday’s game will also be about cherishing the hard fought years, as the team honor seniors Alyssa Phelps and Macey Wilson.
“We play this sport because all of us have a passion for it,” Sganderlla said. “In each game, we give it our all because the amount of time we have in our four years on the Cornell volleyball team get shorter and shorter as each game ends. Also, I know the whole team wants to win the last home games of the season for the end of Alyssa and Macey’s volleyball career at Cornell.”
Cornell continues Ivy League play against Harvard and Dartmouth for its final home games of 2016.