After a disappointing weekend against Penn and Princeton, Cornell’s volleyball team stormed out of fall break with a five-set win against non-conference opponent, Binghamton. The Red (5-11, 1-4 Ivy League) hit the road last Friday and Saturday and dropped six of the seven sets it played overall in losses to Penn (8-8, 3-2 Ivy) and Princeton (8-7, 5-0 Ivy). Despite the losses, Cornell won a tight match against local rival Binghamton (6-15) in its last non-conference game of the season.
The home crowd witnessed an intense match Tuesday evening as the Bearcats won the first and third sets while the Red took the second and fourth sets. The final set had to go into extra points with a final of 18-16 in favor of the home team. The match featured 38 ties and 10 lead changes, as the Red snapped its four game losing streak against the Bearcats.
Junior outside hitter and captain Kelly Marble had a team-high 18 kills, including one on the final point of the match at 17-16 in the fifth set. Cornell was able to fend off three Binghamton match points and finally took the lead on a block from junior outside hitter Janel Forte and freshman outside hitter Breanna Wong.
“I felt like we were really able to close it out against Binghamton last night,” said sophomore captain Kelly Reinke, who was unable to play due to a sprained ankle. “Last night we really showed how well we can play.”
Prior to the Red’s win on Tuesday, the team had lost two important matches against Ivy League opponents Penn and Princeton on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Friday’s match in Philadelphia was an extremely close one, despite the Red losing in straight sets. Cornell fell 21-25, 25-27, 23-25 in a match that featured 25 ties and 10 lead changes. The Red got senior setter Lucy Zheng back for her first action since the 2010 season. She recorded a double-double of 31 assists and 16 digs.
Saturday provided no relief for Cornell as it went up against undefeated Princeton in N.J. While the Red was able to win a set against the Tigers, 25-20, Princeton finished the job in the fourth set, 25-14. In her second start, Zheng recorded 38 assists, while Forte finished with an impressive seven blocks. Zheng’s performance bumped her to second on the team in recorded assists, behind sophomore captain Kelly Reinke. Forte now is third among the team in total blocks with 31 behind junior Rachel D’Epagnier and Wong.
“I feel like we’re getting more competitive in the league,” Reinke said. “We just have to focus on closing out games and this weekend we were not able to against Princeton or Penn.”
Cornell now shifts its focus to a schedule that consists of nine straight Ivy League contests beginning with hosting Harvard this weekend (5-11, 2-3 Ivy) and Dartmouth (2-13, 1-4 Ivy). Historically, Cornell is 36-12 against the Big Green and 36-12 against the Crimson. However, Cornell lost to Dartmouth in the last matchup, but defeated Harvard last year.
“We are looking forward to being at home again and will use that to our advantage,” Marble said. “We will continue to stay primarily focused on us and the things we are doing rather than our opponents in order to do well this upcoming weekend.”
On the season, Cornell sits atop the Ivy League in serving with Marble as its top server. She leads all Ivy Leaguers with 29 service aces and an average of .48 aces per set. The next closest is Dartmouth with 29 aces and a .40 ace per set average. The Red also ranks 17th nationally with a team average of 1.63 service aces per set.
“Dartmouth and Harvard should be good games,” Reinke said. “All Ivy games are usually tight and so we are practicing really hard this week in preparation for this weekend.”
Additionally, Cornell has enjoyed a 4-1 record at home this season where it will play five of the next nine Ancient Eight games. The next time the Red sees Princeton and Penn will be on the final weekend of the season, Nov. 9 and 10.