When head volleyball coach Christie Roes looked at the scoreboard at the end of the Red’s match-up Friday against Princeton, she knew that one loss was not the end of the world. On the road against one of the toughest and most well disciplined teams in the Ivy League, Roes believed the night in which the Red saw its winning streak snapped at 14 consecutive victories would be a valuable learning experience for the team. Provided, of course, that the group rebounded the following night against Pennsylvania.
Yet, fate had different things in mind for the Red this past weekend, as the team was swept by the Quakers en route to its first two consecutive losses of the season. Friday night’s 3-1 defeat (33-31, 30-28, 20-30, 30-23) was the first of any kind for the Red since Sept. 13, and Saturday’s 3-0 setback (30-17, 30-26, 30-25) was the first time in 22 matches that the squad has not won a single game in a match.
“As a whole, we are extremely disappointed,” Roes said. “It was a very frustrating weekend. Our passing was off, the block wasn’t right, and we couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm. It was the worst I’ve seen us play in a long time.”
The Red’s two losses brought its record down to 15-3 overall (6-2 Ivy) and drops the team to third place in the Ivy League standings. Pennsylvania (14-4, 7-0) and Princeton (12-5, 5-1) currently occupy first and second place, respectively.
“We basically beat ourselves,” freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Bishop said. “Nothing really flowed and we never got into a rhythm. Now we just have to work that much harder in practice.”
Bishop was one of the few bright spots for the Red, tallying 21 kills, 11 digs, and eight blocks in the loss to the Tigers at Dillon Gymnasium. In fact, the Red essentially dominated the stat sheet in the defeat; out-hitting Princeton .216-.195 in addition to recording more service aces (6-4) and blocks (17-6). Yet, while sophomore Kelly Kramer notched 24 digs on the evening, for the most part, the Red had no answer to the Tigers’ 35 total kills .
“Princeton really played flawless volleyball,” Roes said. “We made too many errors, and they didn’t let up. We just could not get the right combination of people out on the court.”
The Red had little time to regroup before facing the defending Ivy League champion Quakers at Palestra Gymnasium Saturday evening. This time, however, there was relatively little to be cheerful about for the team. Pennsylvania out-hit Cornell .231-.136 in the match, with the Red hitting a feeble .070 in the third and final game. Heather Janssen led the way for the Quakers, notching 15 kills against the Red defense. Erin Kwak-Hefferan and Lauren Carter also met little resistance, registering 19 kills between them.
“There was no execution whatsoever from our team,” Roes stated. “When we could finally get the ball up, we would make another error. We didn’t make anything happen on our side of the court, and we just couldn’t stop them.”
The Red will have little room for error for the rest of the season, as its championship hopes now hinge on Pennsylvania losing at least once. Nevertheless, for a team used to winning and all of the virtues that come with it, the two losses may be a valuable lesson in humility.
“This weekend definitely taught us that teams can beat us,” said Bishop, who had 14 kills and 13 digs against the Quakers. “We need to remember though that our season isn’t over and we still have a lot of games left to play.”
As with any setback, the key for the coaches and players will now be to regroup and focus on what is coming up next.
“The best thing to do now is to take what’s happened and put it behind us,” Roes said. “We can either say to ourselves, ‘Well, there goes the undefeated season,’ or we can be positive and strive to finish league with a 12-2 record. The losses were devastating, but now we need to turn it around and go on a mission.”
The Red’s first opportunity to bounce back lies in the team’s final non-league match, an away contest tomorrow against the Colgate Raiders. At any rate, it’s clear that the team is focused on erasing the memories of the past weekend and moving on.
“I think everyone on the team feels a little differently right now,” sophomore setter Whitney Fair said. “But the reality is we have a match on Tuesday and two more Ivy League matches next weekend, so we just have to keep at it.”
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen