Ah, the toils of victory.
As the volleyball team continues to add wins and accolades to an already impressive season repertoire, it faces a challenge few teams are ever forced to confront: staying on top. Having compiled the best opening record in Cornell history since the beginning of Ivy League play in 1986, the Red now faces the responsibilities that come with such success. With each victory, the expectations are raised a little higher, the pressure becomes a little thicker, and the atmosphere on the court is that much more intense.
“It’s definitely harder to be a winning team than a losing team,” head coach Christie Roes said. “Other teams want blood from us right now because we are the team to beat.”
Yet, according to the Red, that’s what makes the game all the more enjoyable.
“As soon as we get out on the floor as a group, we all have such a good time,” Roes continued. “Every player loves the sport and has fun, and I think that’s a big part of what makes us a good team.”
The Red (13-1) hopes that the good times keep rolling this weekend as it finishes off a five-game homestand against Brown (1-10) tonight and Yale (8-4) tomorrow afternoon at Newman Arena. Roes and the rest of the squad are preparing for two gritty and hard-fought matches, knowing that their Ivy competitors will be looking to knock off the top-ranked Red.
“Both Brown and Yale have nothing to lose, so they will be playing with a lot of intensity,” Roes said. “We have to come out really strong and keep pressure on throughout the games.”
The Bears are struggling in the midst of a four-game losing streak, having just been swept by Penn and Princeton last weekend. The Red split the season series between the two teams last season, taking a win at home but losing on the road. Brown boasts a strong one-two punch on offense, as sophomores Lauren Gibbs and Leigh Martin have dominated the Brown kills and assists departments, respectively.
“[Brown] has some talented players that can cause problems if we don’t control our side of the net,” Roes explained. “We just need to shut down their good athletes.”
Yale was also hit hard last weekend, dropping matches to Penn and Princeton as well. Yet the Bulldogs will undoubtedly arrive at Newman Arena with a certain swagger, having swept the Red in both matches last season. First year coach Erin Appleman has her team playing consistently with intensity and discipline, as the Bulldogs have averaged 14.67 kills on .213 hitting thus far.
“Yale is a team who can sneak up on you if you aren’t careful,” Roes stated. “They play with a lot of confidence. We need to come out with fire and conviction from the beginning and control the tempo in our own gym.”
Not that the Red shouldn’t be walking with a little swagger, too. The Red are one of seven teams in the nation who have only lost once, and the team currently ranks in the top 15 nationally in both hitting percentage (.284) and blocks per game (2.98). Roes also reached a personal milestone last weekend, registering her 75th win as Cornell head coach against Dartmouth.
Freshman standout Elizabeth Bishop continues to astound fans and stump opponents, having garnered her fourth Ivy League Rookie of the Week award this week after averaging 4.71 kills on .384 hitting against Dartmouth and Harvard. Bishop was also recognized as the Tompkins Trust Co. /Cornell Varsity Athlete of the Week this week for her outstanding play in the Red’s 2-0 weekend.
Furthermore, senior outside hitter Debbie Quibell is again on the brink of history, as she needs only 13 kills to pass Robin Moore ’01 for the all-time Cornell career record in kills. Quibell maintains, however, that this year is all about the team.
“Right now our focus is just on every practice and improving everyday of the week,” Quibell said. “We have the possibility of going undefeated in league, so we just have to stay focused. This is definitely the year for Cornell volleyball.”
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen