Over the summer, while others were padding their resumes with prestigious internships, hanging out with their friends at the beach and partying on Long Island, some select members of the Big Red Volleyball team spent their time practicing their digs and spikes, their strength and conditioning. They worked long, hard hours and perfected the little things that had prevented them from being successful last season.
All of this hard worked paid off this weekend, as the squad marched into Florida and fought off tough competition at the Stetson Invitational to come back to Ithaca sporting a stellar 4-0 record. After staving off Duquense and Stetson, 3-2 and 3-1 respectively in their first two matches, the Spikers cruised past Georgia Southern and Wofford in the final two matches without losing a set in either match.
For the Red, it was a tournament led by its key players. Just as head coach Christie Jackson was hoping, her returning players that had worked so hard over the summer played well in leading the team.
Complemented, by the new freshman class, the Red was too much too handle. In the first match, junior outside hitter Jennifer Borncamp and captain and middle blocker Robin Moore racked up 18 kills and 18 digs, and 14 kills and 17 digs, respectively. This lethal combination and the play of freshmen phenoms Deborah Quibell on the offensive and Ashley Stover and Rachel Rice on the defensive led the Red to its 15-3, 13-15, 15-12, 11-15, 15-13 win. Rice had an impressive 45 assists and 10 digs in the match.
From here on out, the tournament would only get easier for the Red as it stepped its play up a notch and surrendered only one more set throughout the weekend.
Match two against the home team Stetson provided yet another opportunity for the Red to prove how much it had improved from last season as a result of the off season training.
Borncamp had another 13 kills and eight digs, and Rice racked up another 53 assists as the Red won another hard fought contest 15-13, 15-4, 8-15, 15-10. The key to the match was the return of junior Jennifer McHarg who missed all of last season with an injury, as she led the Red with 14 kills and 10 digs.
Day two of the Stetson Invitational featured two more impressive victories. Led again by the leadership of Borncamp and Moore, the volleyball squad racked up 108 kills on the day.
In the first game — a 16-14, 15-8, 15-10 victory over Georgia Southern — Moore racked up 17 kills and led the way with a consistent .359 hitting percentage. Quibell and Borncamp laid the smack down on the offensive end scoring 14 kills and 10 digs a piece.
In match two, Quibell and Moore took command again with 17 kills and 12 digs, and 11 kills and 13 digs respectively.
Jackson was expecting an immediate impact from freshman Rice, and that’s is exactly what she got. Leading the team in assists in each of the four games, Rice compiled an impressive 186 assists during the tourney for an average of 46.5 assists per game.
As the weekend went on, the four matches took its toll on the squad, as its hitting percentage dropped to a low of .163 in the final match, however, the Red was able to outplay its opponents, and do the most important thing that it was unable to do last season: win big points.
Borncamp and Stover were selected to the all-tournament team for their solid play during the tourney. Overall, Borncamp finished with 48 kills and hit .263 for the weekend, while Stover had 11 blocks and recorded 26 kills.
With a shiny, new 4-0 record, the squad is confident heading into this weekend’s Cornell Invitational. The Red knows it will have to play even better than it did at Stetson when it hosts superior competition in the form of San Diego State, Kent University and Northeastern.
For now, the Red knows that its hard work this summer paid off; practice made perfect and led Cornell to a triumphant start.
Archived article by Peter Bernstein