Superb all-around performances propelled the Red to a title in the 2003 Albany Challenge held this weekend in Albany, N.Y.
The Red started the tournament Friday afternoon with a comeback victory against host Albany. Sophomore Rachel Adomat led the Red with career-highs of 14 kills, five digs and four service aces. Freshman Elizabeth Bishop and senior Ashley Stover added 13 and 11 kills, respectively, in the 23-30, 30-24, 30-25, 31-29 victory.
“It helps the overall performance to have a player like Liz,” said head coach Christie Roes, “someone who can come in right away and contribute as a freshman.”
Albany had been riding a six-game, two-tournament win streak entering its own invitational tournament. With a 3-1 record and growing confidence, the Red stepped up to the challenge of facing a more experienced team, out-hitting Albany .279-.233 while relying on outstanding serving and blocking games, led by senior Jamie Lugo’s match-high five blocks.
Due to a scheduling quirk, the Red was forced to play its second match of the tournament a mere three hours later against Fairfield. The team did not show any signs of fatigue, however, delivering a dominating 30-20, 30-18, 34-32 victory at University Gymnasium.
Bishop led the Red with 19 kills and 19 digs, her fourth double-double of the season. Bishop’s performance was just one of many solid showings in the Red’s second match of the tournament, where it out-hit Fairfield .381-.083 with 56 kills. Sophomore Whitney Fair provided an offensive backbone with 40 assists and six digs.
“It was a true team performance,” Roes said. “The entire team did a great job, even the players coming off the bench. They came right in and were able to help.”
The Red entered day two leading the tournament, but needing a strong performance against Long Island to secure the title. The team was able to win a hard-fought match with a dominating fifth game, 30-25, 27-30, 30-27, 21-30, 15-7. The Red improved to 6-1 on the season, while Long Island fell to 8-4.
“Our team had a lot of fight in them,” said Roes. “They were able to come back from some pretty big deficits.”
Bishop was rewarded with the tournament’s Most Valuable Player honors after 22 kills, 12 digs and six blocks in Cornell’s third match. Stover added 12 kills, while sophomore Hayley Grieve contributed 11 kills and 16 digs, her second straight double-double.
“I’m really happy to have the opportunity to come in and play,” said Bishop. “Everything has gone really well.”
Fair again had a strong showing with 53 assists, 10 digs, and five blocks. Her tournament performance was enough to earn her a spot on the all-tournament team along with Bishop and Stover.
The Red’s win streak now stands at five games, its longest since the 2001 season. The team looks to take this week’s tournament victory into Western New York next weekend, where it will face Canisius, Fairleigh Dickinson and Niagara.
“This is another step in the direction to our overall goal to win the Ivy League,” Roes said.
That step may prove to be a pivotal moment in the 2003 season, as the team gains confidence through practice and early season victories after a 2002 season that yielded no tournament victories. The Red’s Ivy League campaign begins on Oct. 3 at Columbia.
“A lot of the competition in the Ivy League is similar to what we saw this weekend,” said Bishop. “If we can continue to stay positive and come together as a team, we are going to have a wonderful season.”
Archived article by Dan Carroll