Coming off a perfect weekend on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, the Cornell women’s volleyball team is facing competition a few leaps and bounds better.
The Red is meeting three top teams in Kent State, Northeastern, and San Diego State.
“These teams are a step above last weekend. They’re all Ivy League quality, maybe a little better,” coach Christie Jackson said.
The tourney will be challenging, both due to the talent of the three teams and the experience of coming off a long, successful weekend.
With a focus on hitting and defense, the women spent the last few days recuperating and adjusting back to practice.
“It was tough to start practice right away and to get back into the swing of things,” freshman outside hitter Deborah Quibell recalled. “But we really didn’t have a choice.”
“We were back to basics this week. Players were sick and run down from Stetson so we tried to keep it easy, but we will be fresh and healthy for this weekend,” Jackson explained.
Kent State is 2-5 on the year, and notably defeated Dartmouth for one of its two wins. The Golden Flashes went 14-17 in 1999 and advanced to the post season. This balanced squad of upper and underclassmen has been hurt by key injuries and is lead by freshmen middle blocker Jennifer Dreyer with a .283 hitting percentage on the year.
Northeastern has not put together a win in its 2000 campaign and crawls into Ithaca with a 0-6 record. After an impressive 20-12 season last year, the Huskies are still looking for the spark that ignited their winning wildfire. Two key seniors have yet to contribute on the court due to injuries and are questionable this weekend. The team’s leading offensive threat, with a mediocre .159 hitting percentage, is sophomore outside hitter Lindsay Wagner.
The San Diego State Aztecs are off to a 2-6 start this season, and its record is indicative of the caliber it has faced. Of those six loses, three were to Top 25 Division I schools last year. The Aztecs posted a decent 11-19 mark in 1999, and return with three quality seniors.
“San Diego will be the best team out of the three. [It has] been playing hard teams, but it is [a] good [squad].” Jackson said.
The freshmen will not be given any breaks this weekend. They demonstrated how capable they are of handling the speed and atmosphere of collegiate volleyball in Florida, and Jackson is not going to let the new players lose that edge.
“I expect the same [level of play] out of all of them. I want Ashley [Stover] to have the same weekend as she did [in the last tournament], but that will be challenging to repeat,” she said. “I also expect Deborah [Quibell] to do well. They are all great competitors and good hitters.”
Freshman middle blocker Stover, along with junior outside hitter Jennifer Borncamp, was named to the All-Tournament team last weekend after posting 11 blocks and 26 kills. Borncamp also had a successful tourney with 48 kills and a .263 hitting percentage over four matches.
Quibell had 49 kills, 31 of them coming in the second day of play, and currently leads the team with a .270 hitting percentage. Senior middle blocker Robin Moore added 51 kills to her stellar career kill total that now stands at 859 and ranks her fourth on the Cornell all-time list.
“The [Stetson] tournament was a good starting point. The younger players got court experience and the older ones stepped up,” Quibell reminisced. “It was a great weekend all around. We improved our skills and really came together.”
Tonight and tomorrow will test the team’s stamina and ability to keep its momentum alive after a week of classes, practice, and rest.
“We want to win, hands down. It would be great to get these wins, and if we do, it will be a great accomplishment,” Quibell said. “I want to play the game I know how to play.”
Jackson echoed Quibell’s sentiments.
“It will feel great if we competed and won some matches,” she said.
Cornell faces Kent State tonight at 7 p.m., Northeastern tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m., and closes out its first homestand against San Diego State at 7 p.m. later in that evening.
Archived article by Katherine Granish