This weekend, the women’s volleyball team is starting off its Ivy League season with a pair of matches against Columbia.
The Red will face the Lions in Newman Arena tonight at 7 p.m. and will finish up the weekend with a match tomorrow night in New York City.
“When we go to Columbia, it will be hard. It is hard to go after a team back-to-back,” head coach Christie Jackson said. “Columbia definitely has home court advantage because they have a lot of fans and spirit in their gym.”
Cornell (7-4, 0-0 Ivy) is coming off a successful bid in the Big Red Invitational, in which it finished second, falling in its final game to tournament champion Wyoming (14-2).
In the invitational, junior middle blocker Ashley Stover was the Red’s representative on the All-Tournament team. She compiled 37 kills, four service aces, and nice digs throughout the team’s four matches. She also hit .600, .444, and .500 in three of the matches.
Freshman outside hitter Heather Young was named this week’s Ivy League Rookie of the Week. Her 29 kills, 23 digs, eight service aces, and six blocks in the invite contributed significantly to the team’s success and capped off her best performance to date. She ranks in the top five on the squad in three categories: kills, blocks, and service aces.
Junior outside hitter Debbie Quibell garnered a spot on the league’s weekly honor roll by averaging 4.00 kills per game (kpg), 2.00 digs per game (dpg), and a .260 hitting average.
Columbia (6-6, 0-0) is coming off a 1-2 weekend at the San Diego Invite, its win coming against Robert Morris in five games. Cornell faced the Colonials in the first weekend of its season, winning the first game, but dropping the next three.
Jackson commented on these two outcomes.
“I spoke with the Robert Morris coach, and he said they had a really bad match, and they were also missing a key hitter,” she said. “Columbia is thinking that because they beat them and we lost, they will be able to beat us too, but it was the beginning of our season, so I’m not considering that as a factor for this weekend.”
The Lions are no doubt led by senior middle hitter Kathy Lavold, who was also a member of this week’s Ivy honor roll. She currently leads the team with a 3.50 kpg average and is third with a .221 hitting percentage. She has been named to the All-Ivy first team for the past two seasons.
Junior outside hitter Madia Willis also heads the offensive front and is second averaging 2.92 kpg. She also earned All-Ivy honors last season.
“Oh definitely,” Jackson responded when asked if the team would have to devote some of its attention to the Lion’s two stars. “We will have to serve pretty tough so Columbia will have to keep the ball away from Lavold. Those are really their two best hitters and everyone else is pretty far behind them. Those are the two we are looking to shut down.”
Last season, Columbia posted its first winning Ivy season in the history of its program and also had its best overall record.
“They didn’t graduate anyone and they got a couple good recruits, so we’re expecting them to put up a fight. It’s definitely not a match we are overlooking,” Jackson informed. “We lost one to them last year, and that is weighing on the team heavily. If we hadn’t lost a game to both Columbia and Yale last year, we would have been in a tie for first. That is really making them take these games more seriously.”
Overall, however, Jackson believes Cornell has the advantage on the court.
“Our team is very well rounded. That is one thing that we have that Columbia doesn’t have,” she said. “We have eight hitters, and they have two. The key is to get them all working together and that is a challenge.”
“The wins can come as long as we play solid and aggressively and put some numbers up,” Jackson continued. “Not just one or two players stepping it up, but everyone proving we are not just hot and cold, but that we are consistent. We have a lot to prove to ourselves, not just getting the win.”
To summarize the team’s philosophy this weekend and how they want to start out the Ivy season, Jackson chose one word.
Archived article by Katherine Granish