The phrase “records were made to be broken” is a common aphorism in all sporting events, yet there have been few instances where it has been taken as seriously as the volleyball team took it last weekend at the Seton Hall Spikefest in South Orange, N.J. Not only did the squad break Cornell’s single game block-assist record with 30 in its first game of the season against Iona, it broke it again the next day against Hartford with an incredible 32 block-assists, paving the way to a 3-1 overall tournament record.
Competition in the Spikefest manifested itself in a variety of ways for the Red, as the team fought through two difficult contests on the opening day before cruising to two relatively easy victories on Sept. 14. The matches proved to be an excellent source of game experience for the underclassmen while still providing the established seniors with an opportunity to hone their skills.
“On the whole I think the weekend was very successful,” Assistant Coach Steve Loeswick said. “We learned a lot about our individual players and the team as a unit. Also, we were able to begin to see really what we are good at and what we still have to work on.”
The Red entered the first game of the new season confident from pre-season workouts and hungry for the competition of its first real opponent — the Iona Gaels. However, the team’s energized mood was quickly lessened as it lost the first match by a mere two points. The setback promptly shook off any remaining first-game jitters as the Red bounced back to win the next two matches en route to a 3-2 overall victory.
Freshman Elizabeth Bishop shone in her collegiate debut, leading the way with 17 kills and 18 digs. Senior standout Debbie Quibell also notched 18 digs in addition to her own 16 kills, while sophomore Whitney Fair dominated the box score with an astonishing 60 assists.
“I was definitely nervous at first,” Bishop stated. “But once the whole team relaxed and settled down, we were able to start playing the way we know we are capable of. Even though we should have taken care of business earlier in the match, we were still happy to come out with our first win.”
Bishop again led the way for the Red in its second contest of the day against host Seton Hall, yet even her 20 kills and 23 digs could not salvage a victory as the team dropped the match, three games to two.
Again the players struggled with their focus early on, losing the first game 30-21 before rallying to victories in the next two games. Yet they could not close out the match, losing the final two games by scores of 30-22 and 15-10.
Encouraging performances for the Red were given by sophomore “libero” Kelly Kramer, who recorded a career-high 24 digs, and senior middle blocker Ashely Stover, who contributed 10 kills and three digs in the losing effort.
“We made a lot of errors against Seton Hall, both as a team and individually,” Quibell said. “But it was certainly a wake-up call, and it showed us that, like any other team, we are not unbeatable. The loss gave us an opportunity to identify our weaknesses and improve upon them.”
The Red rebounded with a sweep of La Salle on Sunday, dominating the Explorers in almost every possible category. Sophomore Hayley Grieve led the attack with 15 kills and 9 digs, as the Red pummeled an anemic Explorer defense. Bishop continued her superb weekend both offensively and defensively, notching 14 kills and 15 digs.
“We were a lot more focused against La Salle,” Bishop said. “We wanted to be able to win the first game and build right from the beginning rather than trying to come back.”
The Red continued this supremacy Sunday afternoon as it closed out the tournament with a bang, defeating Hartford three games to one while simultaneously setting the school record for block-assists. The final game also saw multiple athletes rewarded with significant playing time, as freshmen Joanna Weiss and Alaina Town both made key contributions on the court. Senior Jamie Lugo kept the Red’s defense on track, recording 10 blocks in the win.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen