When a small flame suddenly bursts into a huge bonfire, the effect is similar to the momentum driving the women’s volleyball team.
“It’s a miracle when a team goes from eighth place to where we are now,” head coach Christie Jackson said.
Junior outside hitter Jennifer Borncamp simply stated, “We’re a lot better this year than last year,”
At this point last year, the Red was down 1-3 in the Ivies and finished last in the league. That is not the case this season.
“We have a real shot at being in the top three. It is hard to go from eighth to first place, but this year is up for grabs,” senior middle blocker Robin Moore affirmed.
Coming off a weekend filled with upsets, the Red emerged and demanded attention. After a close match against Brown, which it lost in five games, the Red came back Saturday to shut down Yale in three games for a win.
“We never let down for one second against Yale,” Jackson explained. “[It] definitely had chances but we didn’t let it come back.”
“We really attacked their weaknesses and played a game that didn’t play into their strengths. Everyone served well and passed well enough to run a good offense. Everyone played their game and played up to their capacity,” Moore elaborated on Jackson’s comment.
Cornell’s victory over Yale terminated the Bulldogs’ seven game winning streak. The win was also the Red’s first over Yale since 1996 and was the first time it blanked Yale since 1993.
Along with the Red’s upset of Yale, Dartmouth overthrew Princeton, last year’s Ivy champs, and Pennsylvania, both considered Ivy powerhouses.
Today and tomorrow, the Red is facing Harvard and Dartmouth in a crucial weekend for the team.
“This is a big weekend because if we can come away with two wins, the [Ivy] championship is up for grabs and we definitely will come out in the top three,” Moore confirmed.
“We will be number one if we beat both teams, and we haven’t been near the top for a while,” Jackson mentioned.
Harvard has a 7-9 record on the season and is 0-2 in the Ivies. Its two Ivy losses were delivered by Penn and Princeton.
“Harvard is last in the league, but that’s odd because it should be at the top. [The Crimson] is a tough team,” Jackson explained.
Harvard was second in the Ivy League last year. The team is captained by senior middle blocker Katherine Hart who was named to the All-Ivy first team last season. Senior outside hitter Angela Lutich is the Crimson’s offensive and defensive powerhouse, but the Red will have to watch junior outside hitter Erin Denniston, who recently recorded her 1000th career kill and leads the league with a 4.27 kills/game average.
“This is the best chance we have to beat [Harvard] because we have a really strong team,” Borncamp said.
Dartmouth is currently posting a 7-9 season record, but is 2-0 in the Ivies. The Big Green is powered by 1999 All-Ivy first team selection, junior outside hitter Ashley Dean who was instrumental in both wins last weekend. Freshman setter Chelsea Morgan is best described as a clone of the Red’s Rachel Rice. Morgan consistently posts upwards of 50 assists in every match and set career highs in assists and digs for a match with 65 and 25, respectively.
“Dartmouth is more well-rounded than Harvard. It was a fluke that we beat them last year [for our only Ivy victory], but this year we are going for legitimate wins,” Jackson asserted. “We want to beat them before the fifth game because they are tough in the fifth game.
“Dartmouth is tough because you can’t just shut down one player and win. The team will take advantage of our weaknesses. The win over Princeton was legitimate because the team is so well-rounded. But I watched the tape of that game, and Princeton didn’t play as well as it could have. Also, Dartmouth was at home, and that is a big advantage,” Jackson continued.
“Dartmouth is strong this year, but we still have a great chance to beat [it],” Borncamp stated.
The Red will have to go into this weekend’s matches without one of its regulars. Freshman outside hitter Debbie Quibell injured her ankle in the third game against Yale.
“Quibell is not 100%, but she will be playing because she is a competitor. She was practicing with us [yesterday] at about 60%, but we really need her this weekend because she is a big part of our success,” Jackson said.
“She will be up for Saturday, if not today,” Moore commented.
“We have a great feeling this weekend. We just need to show up and be mentally and physically ready to go out and set the tempo and take control. That is how every match will be,” Jackson concluded.
“We are confident, but not overconfident. We respect these teams and know what we have to do to beat them,” Moore stated.
The Red will fight the Crimson today at 7 p.m. and will battle the Big Green tomorrow at 4 p.m. The bouts will be held in Newman Arena.
Archived article by Katherine Granish