Just under a month ago, Cornell volleyball resoundingly beat Columbia to open Ivy League play with a victory. However, when the Red traveled to New York City this past weekend to battle the Lions for the second time, the team’s luck had turned.
Columbia (7-10, 2-6 Ivy) came out strong, winning the first two sets, 25-20 and 25-15, respectively. The Red (8-9, 4-4) fought back to squeak out the third set, 25-23, but the Lions clinched their victory in the fourth set by a score of 25-19.
Head coach Trudy Vande Berg noted the improved playing of the Lions from the first meeting. She noted that Columbia grew accustomed to to Cornell’s playing style, and Cornell struggled outside Newman Arena
“We have struggled on the road this year but are working through it,” Vande Berg said. “We have one more big road trip coming up and we are doing everything we can to change our mindset.”
Sophomore outside hitter Samanta Arenas also emphasized that the Red experiences a difference in play between Ithaca and its rival schools.
“We’ve been struggling to maintain our composure and execute a game plan when we’re on the road versus when we’re at home,” she said. “We have more of a sense of urgency at home because we want to protect our home court, but we need to find a way to have that translate into our playing when we’re away from home.”
However, along with the Red’s own loss of momentum in away gyms, the sophomore hitter agreed with her head coach and saw Columbia’s improvement in play from the last time the two teams faced off.
“Columbia scouted us very well and picked up on our tendencies, so they were able to fix the errors they made playing us the first time,” she said.
Columbia’s Anja Malesevic was a thorn in Cornell’s side all game long. The senior finished the day with 25 kills, 30 points and 65 total attempts, double digits more than any other player in all categories.
“We couldn’t stop their right side, Anja,” Vande Berg said. “She has been playing well and we had a game plan for her but didn’t execute consistently so she got into a great rhythm.”
“[Malesevic] did really well with switching up her hitting shots, which was difficult to handle when we were not disciplined on our defense,” Arenas added.
Despite their disheartening loss against the Lions in the first two sets this weekend, the Red fought back in the third set to a close win.The team fought persistently throughout the game, forcing the Lions to work for their win.
The kills made by Arenas, senior Kit McCarty and senior Emily Wemhoff all added to the team’s win during the third set. Furthermore, the 27 assists made by freshman setter Zoe Chamness and the four blocks made by sophomore Jada Stackhouse throughout the entire game contributed to the team’s drive and determination to fight for every point.
“In the third set, everyone came together and had a switch that allowed us to play as a team rather than individually,” Arenas added.
With four kills and two blocks for five points, junior hitter Kara Rogers was another standout for the Red, and Arenas noted her as someone who helps the team come together.
“Kara did really well switching up her shots and stepping out of her comfort zone because Columbia was all over her,” Arenas said. “Kara has been able to beat out other teams with her offensive decisions.”
Next, Cornell faces off against Dartmouth (7-10, 3-5) and Harvard (11-6, 6-2) next weekend in Newman Arena. The Red fell to both New England teams when they faced off in Cambridge and Hanover.
However, Vande Berg and her players are determined to work hard this week to steer away from another loss, especially as these upcoming games will be at home.
“Being at home, I don’t think there is any question that we will do what we need to do to win,” Arenas said. “We need to focus more on games after this weekend that we’re going to play away from home.”