While most Cornellians were busy preparing for a long Saturday night of partying, about 200 students and area residents sheltered themselves from the rain in the intimate setting of Newman Arena. The event was the volleyball team’s first home game of the season against Columbia. The Red treated its fans to an exciting victory, improving to 11-1 with a 30-20, 30-19, 30-24 conquest over Columbia — its 10th straight win.
The Red’s ninth straight victory came on Friday night at Columbia, 30-18, 30-14, 30-20. The relatively short match, clocked at just over one hour, served as the Ivy League season opener for both teams. Senior Debbie Quibell led the Red with 13 kills as it outhit Columbia .364-.000. The injury-plagued Columbia dressed only seven players, and its 32 team errors allowed the Red to stay out front the entire match.
“We need to build on what we started this weekend,” said Quibell. “Columbia is not the strongest team we face. We need to get ready for a higher level of competition.”
The glorious homecoming came the next night in front of an energetic and exuberant crowd. From the loud cheering usually reserved for hockey games to the community accessibility seen mostly at Schoellkopf Field, the volleyball home opener at the Newman Arena provided an experience unparalleled in Cornell athletics.
“There were a few more people here than normal,” said head coach Christie Roes. “They’re just dying to see some home volleyball games, because we’ve been on the road for so long.”
The eager fans were treated to another impressive Ivy League match-up. Sophomore Hayley Grieve led the Red with 16 kills, eight digs, and four service aces as Columbia was again forced to bring only seven players. After grabbing early leads in the first and second games, Cornell did allow Columbia to inch its way back before stifling the advance.
“We almost knew what they were going to do next, how their hitters hit and where we need to hit,” said Grieve. “We knew if we stayed solid they wouldn’t come back.”
Columbia jumped out to an early lead in the third game, but the Red’s superior amount of depth and young talent allowed the team to close out the match in three straight games. The match was a good time to let young players gain experience, while season standouts like freshman Elizabeth Bishop, sophomore Whitney Fair, and senior Ashely Stover were given a much needed rest.
“Overall, playing the depth and getting some freshman some experience is really going to be helpful down the road,” said Roes, “and also in turn resting some players that are going to be out there next weekend.”
The Red continues its Ivy League season and five-match stretch of home games next weekend, facing Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday. Those two matches should provide the first true test of the volleyball team’s depth and athleticism, but nothing that the players are not capable of handling.
“We just have to focus on our side of the match and not even worry about what the other team is doing,” said Quibell. “There isn’t one team in this league that can beat us if we play our game.”
Whatever the outcome of next weekend is, the Red is hoping for an even stronger show of support for its young and talented team.
“I hope they come back, because that wasn’t our best,” said Roes. “We have some really good players on this team, and we want to show them.”
Archived article by Dan Carroll