It was just one of those weekends when the players showed up, but the team missed the bus.
The Spikers headed for Pennsylvania and New Jersey this weekend with visions of entering the Ivy tournament in first place. The two matches were supposed to be filled with action-packed, edge-of-your-seat play, the victor securing its place above a talented Ivy pool. Fortunately for Penn and Princeton, the Red took itself out of the equation.
“I think it just happens,” junior outside hitter Jennifer Borncamp sighed. “You have a good game, and sometimes you have a bad game, and I guess everyone pretty much just had a bad game at the same time,” she commented on the weekend’s play.
Cornell entered the weekend tied for first in the Ivies with Princeton, and Penn threatening to dethrone Cornell if given the chance. Earlier in the season, Dartmouth handily defeated Penn and Princeton, opening the door for the Red to rise in the ranks. After defeating Harvard in an amazing match with a come-back from a two game deficit, the Red swept Dartmouth the following day, establishing itself as an Ivy powerhouse.
Despite the previous Ivy matches, the team considered this weekend the pinnacle of its Ivy season. The team focused on these two games and viewed last weekend’s Albany Invitational as practice for Penn and Princeton.
On Friday night, the women faced Pennsylvania, 3-2 in the league at the time, and 18-7 overall. The Quakers were shooting for their first 20 win season since 1987. The Red helped them achieve that mark.
Game one saw Penn use its home court advantage to take the first round 15-10.
The second game featured a hint of the first-place Cornell squad. Penn jumped out to an early 8-1 lead, but Cornell fought back to tie the score with seven unanswered points to tie the game at eight. Penn again took a 13-8 lead, but Cornell responded to tie it at 14-all. Penn would not yield, however, and took the game 16-14 with strong serving.
Game three opened with another run from Penn, this time widening the score at 7-1, but the Red was unable to battle the Quaker’s momentum. Penn took the game 15-4 to secure its victory.
The team’s statistics for the match were not indicative of Penn’s 3-0 sweep. The Red had 53 kills, 75 digs, and six team blocks. Similarly, Penn put up 51 kills, 76 digs, and nine team blocks. The difference in the match came down to miscues.
The Red has been nagged by errors in recent matches, and this match proved no different. Cornell tallied 33 mistakes to Penn’s 17, which made the difference in team hitting department. Cornell ended the night at .110, while the Quakers posted a solid .192.
Cornell faced an identical fate in its match against Princeton.
In the first game, Cornell outhit the Tigers .300 to .286, but posted only 12 kills to the Tigers’ 19 and fell 15-7.
The second game saw a Cornell drop in offensive quality, which the Tigers took advantage of and took the game 15-7.
Despite a third round surge from the Red, the Tigers proved they would not be tamed and took the match with a 15-12 score.
Errors again played a part in the loss as Cornell committed 21 and hit .125. Princeton was not much better as it had 19 blunders, but had more kills (46) than the Red (35) and hit .231.
Over the two matches, Borncamp was solid with 20 kills and 22 digs. Senior middle blocker Robin Moore lead the team with 27 kills and had 19 digs. Freshman outside hitter Debbie Quibell also had a good weekend with 21 kills and 19 digs, while freshman setter Rachel Rice added 70 more assists to her name.
Head coach Christie Jackson, along with the players, was unable to explain the weekend’s defeats.
“We didn’t play well. I don’t know what happened, but again it was the unforced errors. [The team] was playing like [it] had never played volleyball before,” Jackson said.
“We are much better than the other teams, we just didn’t show up,” Borncamp added. “We didn’t play the way we usually play, I don’t know what happened. We talked about it, but there is just so much talking you can do, we just need to play. I mean, we know how to play. We got out there, and, well, when I was playing, I felt helpless. It was just kind of an upsetting weekend.”
“We really weren’t ourselves this weekend,” Rice muttered.
Although the women were slightly dejected about the losses, they remained positive about the season. The Red will head into the Ivy tournament with a third place seed. In terms of league record, Cornell is tied with Dartmouth and Yale at 4-3, but because the Red beat both teams, it will enter the tourney seeded higher. Jackson explained her thinking on the Ivy tournament.
“It’s a great seed, and that won’t change. We play Brown [in the] first round, which is a good team to play because they beat us and we know we should have beat them, and the girls probably want revenge,” she said. “I almost want to play them more than I want to play a team we have already beat so that we’re not over confident. We definitely need to get back [together] and come back to volleyball.”
“We are in third place, and we are so happy about that. We are playing Brown and we want to beat them so bad,” Borncamp added.
The Red’s Ivy regular season is over, with the Ivy tourney taking place November 10-12 at Harvard.
The Red will next face Buffalo away tomorrow at 7 p.m., before returning to Ithaca for the Big Red Invitational on November 4th.
Archived article by Katherine Granish