Six down, who’s next?
While much of the east coast shudders in the wake of the tumultuous Hurricane Isabel, local women’s volleyball teams have also found themselves victim to a seemingly unstoppable destructive force. The only difference is, the Red shows no signs of letting up.
Having swept through both the Seton Hall Spikefest and the Albany Challenge with a near-perfect record of 6-1, the volleyball team is looking to complete a sparkling preseason with three more victories this weekend against Western New York teams. The Red hopes to build on its five-game win streak by compiling another weekend winning record before heading into Ivy League play, yet business still needs to be taken care of. Tonight’s target: Canisius, followed by Fairleigh Dickinson and Niagara tomorrow.
“Overall, I think our team is pretty solid,” sophomore middle blocker Heather Young said. “Since we have been winning we feel a little added pressure to keep winning, but I think our mentality hasn’t changed. We are still going to work hard.”
The Red has thus far relied on key contributions from both starters and bench players alike. One of the biggest surprises of the season continues to be freshman standout Elizabeth Bishop, who was named tournament MVP at the Albany Challenge and Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the second straight week. Bishop has solidified an already potent Red offense, averaging 4.50 kills, 3.42 digs and 0.75 blocks per game last weekend in addition to notching her fifth double-double effort of the season against Long Island. The freshman currently leads all Red players in kills per game, showing remarkable maturity both on and off the court.
“It feels really great to be honored [by the Ivy League],” Bishop stated. “But I don’t really think about things like that. I just go out, play hard and focus on taking things one game at a time.”
Yet even with its impressive offensive statistics, the Red would not be much of a team if it weren’t for its unyielding defense. The veteran corps, led by seniors Ashely Stover and Jamie Lugo, has out-blocked opponents 91-39 in seven games thus far (a team average of 3.91 blocks per game). Moreover, on the rare occasion that a ball does get through this pair of blocking studs, sophomore libero Kelly Kramer is almost always there to dig an opponent’s attack, averaging 4.1 digs per game herself.
As a result, the Red puts out one of the most balanced squads on the court game in and game out, a balance that will undoubtedly serve the team well in tonight’s match against Metro Atlantic competitor Canisius. The Golden Griffins (6-8) bring home-court advantage and a little extra confidence into their match up with the Red, having compiled a 2-1 record last weekend at the Holy Cross tournament with sweeps against La Salle and Colgate.
“Canisius is a scrappy team that is efficient at getting balls in the air,” Young noted. “It’s going to be our responsibility to finish off the plays against them.”
Fairleigh Dickinson (2-13) and Niagara (2-11) are not expected to pose quite the challenge of Canisius, the teams having combined for a 4-24 record at this point in the season. Both the Knights and the Eagles are trying to put together winning records after consecutive losing seasons in the Northeast and Metro Atlantic Conferences, respectively.
Regardless, the teams will still be a welcome tune-up for the Red, as the squad readies itself for the beginning of Ivy League competition next week.
“We’re all getting really excited for Ivy League play,” Bishop said. “We’re going to stay focused through this last pre-season weekend, but we’ve definitely been looking forward to [Ivy League competition] for a while.”
All eyes will also be on senior Debbie Quibell this weekend, as she is only 62 kills away from surpassing Robin Moore ’01 on the all-time career kills list. Furthermore, Quibell needs only 10 digs to make Cornell history as the first women’s volleyball player to record both 1,000 kills and digs in a career.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen