This weekend, the women’s volleyball team competed in its first two Ivy matches of the season, both coming against Columbia.
On Friday, the Red (9-4, 2-0 Ivy) battled the Lions (6-8, 0-2) at home.
Cornell took the first game 30-23, but Columbia evened the match in the next game by a score of 30-17, benefiting from a negative hitting percentage by the Red.
Refusing to let the match fall into the Lions’ control, Cornell rebounded to hit .250 over the next two games and took the contest with scores of 30-24 and 33-31.
Senior outside hitter Angela Barbera had a match-high 20 kills and four digs on .421 hitting, while junior outside hitter Debbie Quibell had a double double with 10 kills and 12 digs. Junior middle blocker Ashely Stover had 11 kills, senior defensive specialist Mary Margaret Moore had 11 digs and junior setter Rachel Rice recorded 42 assists and five digs.
For Columbia, senior middle hitter Kathy Lavold had 16 kills while junior outside hitter Madia Willis had 17 kills.
As a team, Cornell was outhit .178 to Columbia’s .236.
The following night, both teams traveled to New York City to play on Columbia’s court. The Red expected a tough match, not only because of a fiery crowd, but also because last season, Cornell dropped one of its two matches against the Lions, which factored in its falling just short of the championship.
As anticipated, Columbia used its home-court advantage to take the first two games, 30-24 and a hard fought 35-33.
“The crowd was brutal and crude. It was hard to stay focused, but the team did a good job with blocking out the noise and concentrating on every play,” head coach Christie Jackson said.
Cornell recovered strongly to take the following game 30-14.
“I think Columbia let us win [the third game] because they made a lot of mistakes in that game,” Jackson explained. “That was the time security started escorting people from the crowd. The name-calling was really distracting and we were struggling to keep focused and not listen rather than handling the ball before that game.”
“Columbia fell apart in that game and we just kept going. The team didn’t let Columbia have anything that game,” she continued.
Cornell then squeaked out the fourth game, 31-29, as Columbia regained its focus.
Momentum carried the Red through the fifth game to a 15-10 victory on .417 hitting to the Lions’ .208.
Cornell saw outstanding performances from both Barbera and Quibell, who both recorded double doubles. The senior had 24 kills and 15 digs while Quibell had 15 kills and 28 digs.
The Red also got contributions from Stover, who had 15 kills, Rice, who had 54 assists and 15 digs, and Moore, who had 16 digs.
“We stuck together on Saturday because it was a tougher match than we thought it was going to be,” Jackson reflected. “A lot of people stepped it up. Overall we were determined not to let them take it from us.”
Lavold and Willis again challenged the Red as the former had 19 kills and the latter had 12.
“We definitely shut Madia down in that match. She was hitting and we were blocking and digging her. We evaluated our block from Friday and shut her down,” Jackson said. “Kathy is never going to be shut down. She is always going to be the big player in the league because she has such a high reach. I think we did a better job of serving so that Columbia couldn’t get her the ball.”
As a team, Cornell outhit Columbia .195 to .099.
“That was our first five-game match. Going into the fifth game, I told them we needed the match. We needed the experience. I think it pumped the team up because when it comes down to it, it is really anyone’s game in the fifth game,” Jackson described. “It is great we came out on top, because those were the matches we were supposed to win.”
Next weekend, Cornell continues its Ivy slate with matches against Princeton and Pennsylvania at home.
“It really helps us later down the road, going 2-0 into the rest of our conference matches, provided we keep winning,” Jackson ended. “We do think Columbia will sneak a win out of a lot of people in the conference, and that will really help us later.”
Archived article by Katherine Granish