That is a word not often used to describe a team. A player can lay down a solid kill or have a solid match. To say that a team is solid as a unit, against every opponent it plays, is praise of the utmost.
Last night in Newman Arena, the women’s volleyball team played perhaps the most important match of its regular season. This contest was also the last time the two seniors on the team will play in front of the home crowd, and they were honored for before the match on Senior Night.
“Definitely, Definitely,” head coach Christie Jackson stated when asked if the match was important for the tournament. “This was a very good match for us to lead into the tournament with since [Colgate] was Ivy League comparable.”
Cornell faced a determined Colgate squad who came out in the first game to take a 12-5 lead. After taking a time out to regroup, the Red fired right back to close the gap 13-7 on several Colgate errors. The Red Raiders would only put one more point on the scoreboard in the opening round as the Red went on a eight-unanswered point rampage to take the game 16-14.
The Red’s slow start can be attributed to the pace of the weekend’s matches in the Big Red Invitational.
“We started off slow, but I think it was because we were used to playing the teams from last weekend. We just had to get our momentum back,” junior outside hitter Jennifer Borncamp said.
Game two featured more East Hill dominance. Sound efforts from Borncamp and senior middle blocker Robin Moore helped Cornell open with an 8-1 lead. Errors, an old thorn in the Red’s side, made their appearance in a temporary team lull that allowed Colgate to come within two points at 8-6.
As quickly as the team lost focus, however, it regained control of the court and shut down the Raiders to take the battle 15-6.
This game was statistically the best on the night as the Red had 19 kills and only made three mistakes for a .500 mark in hitting.
The final game of the match capped a rough night for the Raiders. Colgate jumped out to a 2-0 lead, only to see it diminish in an 11 point run from the other side of the net. The Red relented just enough for Colgate to squeeze in five more points, but ultimately took the game and match by a score of 15-7.
“We came in pretty confident. This is our preparation for the Ivy League Tournament this weekend,” freshman outside hitter Debbie Quibell mentioned. “We knew we had to [win], we were confident we were going to do it, and we did.”
For the Red Raiders, the final game was their low point. After putting up a .235 hitting average in its first game, Colgate found themselves with a team mark of .165. The Big Red, on the other hand, opened with .077 but improved over the last two games to post a .255 mark as a team.
Overall, Cornell had 15 errors and 40 kills while Colgate had a similar 18 and 35, respectively. The difference in the match, besides Cornell being the superior team talent-wise, was that the Red had 46 total digs and 13 team blocks. Colgate had only 38 digs and three team blocks.
This match is important because Cornell started slowly. The pace of the weekend’s matches was so far below the pace that the Red will have to step up to in the tournament, that without this match, the spikers could have had problems.
“I thought the match was a little slow. It was an adjustment from the teams we were playing the past weekend. [Colgate] was a lot faster, they definitely had legitimate hitters, and they ran some nice plays,” Moore commented. “I think it took us a while to get back into another level of volleyball, which is good for us, because now we will be ready for [the tournament] and we won’t be surprised. It was a little bit of a wake up call, but we handled it well.”
Wake up call indeed, but one that was manageable coming against a non-league opponent. The Red also understood the importance.
“The Ivy League teams are going to be a lot better than [Colgate], but we will be able to adjust. This match was an upgrade from last weekend, so we just have to go one more step, and we will win,” Borncamp cheerfully stated.
“The matches on the weekend were not at the level we need to be prepared. This [match] really helped us prove to ourselves that we are ready,” Quibell reflected. “It helped us prove to ourselves that we have a chance at winning the tournament. It gives us a lot more confidence playing a higher level team because [Colgate] is very Ivy League comparable.”
Borncamp recorded a double-double in the match with 12 kills and 15 digs, and finished with a .333 hitting percentage. Moore was also impressive with a solid nine kills, eight digs, and a match high seven blocks. Quibell contributed with seven kills, eight digs and only committed one error. Freshman setter Rachel Rice was consistent as always with 36 assists.
In addition to those four, the match saw solid play from freshman middle blocker Ashley Stover who posted three kills and three blocks. Senior right side Lindsey Cross three kills, three assists, six digs, and helped Cornell take the first game by serving seven-straight points. Jackson was impressed with everyone’s play.
“They pulled together really well as a team tonight,” she said. “They didn’t panic, and they were composed and very focused no matter what. Those are the things we have been working on all the time and it is good that we are mastering them finally. I think we are going to go into the tournament really strong.”
“It was an awesome team effort. Everyone stepped up and did her job. We set individual goals before the match, and everyone worked hard to attain them,” Quibell summarized. “We played focused and we played strong, and that’s what we needed for this weekend.”
The Red will continue with practices for the rest of the week, while remaining relaxed and not too excited, according to Jackson. Cornell’s first match of the tourney will come against Brown this Friday at 5 p.m. The tourney is being held at Harvard, and will be played as single-elimination.
Archived article by Katherine Granish